Think BIG: Snoop’s Solo Stove Campaign, Food and Bev Trends + Nostalgia in Marketing

Welcome back to Belle’s “Think BIG” series. Each month, we’re sharing bold brand ideas, industry insights and all-things measurement + goals. We hope our bitesize news + trend-takes inspire big thinking and big results for your next campaign.

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  1. Six factors that earn coverage today
  2. Food trends to feast on in 2024
  3. Nostalgic marketing campaigns tug on heart- and pursestrings
  4. Why waning DEI commitments is a problem for brands

Bold Brand Ideas: Snoop Dogg gives up smoke…

We’re in the midst of a PR evolution. On one hand, traditional news coverage is harder to secure than ever and newsrooms are shrinking. On the other, content overload + fatigue are real as digital platforms explode.

So how can a brand stand out? Flip tried-and-true strategies on their head and do the unexpected. 

Let’s use Solo Stove as an example. They partnered with Snoop Dogg to promote their smokeless fire pits, pizza ovens and outdoor appliances. The partnership started with a cryptic Instagram post from Snoop.

Although some speculated it was a stunt, the social post immediately went viral. Because Snoop Dogg is known for his cannabis use, his post stirred up headlines. Even AP News covered it. 

A few days later, Snoop Dogg revealed the campaign. Following the unveiling, Solo Stove reported a massive lift in brand awareness – their ultimate goal. The campaign amassed 1.2 million brand mentions on social and in news articles – a total value of $43.5 million in exposure. Global media coverage resulted in 19.5 billion overall impressions.

The creative genius almost didn’t happen.  AdAge gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the “smokesperson” came to be. The article underscores the complexity of pulling off buzzworthy campaigns. It’s not enough to have a “creative” idea. 

At Belle, we advise that for a campaign to be newsworthy it must be: 

  • Bold: Brand-authentic, culturally relevant and built with just enough tension and surprise to break through. 
  • Insight-led: Informed by audience-specific data and brand truths to bridge brands from where they are to how they want to be perceived. They’re also pressure-tested against potential risks. 
  • Generators: Built to scale and earn visibility in every stage of the customer journey.

We’ve also found that break-through campaigns – those that earn media coverage – require a combination of:

The Six Factors that Win Media

Don’t just trust us, or Snoop Dogg. A recent survey of global CMOs reported that marketing campaigns must entertain or risk being ignored. A Deloitte marketing trends study found that half of high-growth brands strongly agree that creative ideas are essential to long-term success.

How are you building creativity into your 2024 strategy?

Industry Insights: 2024 trends for food + beverage brands

‘Tis the season for trend reports and futurecasting. Feast on these must-know food trends from our favorite social sources:

  • Consumers are craving unique food fusions… Searches for “pizza pot pie” rose 55% and “cheeseburger tacos” by 255% on Pinterest.
  • Reddit also validated the unexpected food combo trend. One of their most popular threads was about a blueberry beef patty (that’s just gross IMO). I can get behind this spaghetti sandwich though.
  • Pinterest searches for “tropical chic decor” rose 110% and “coconut aesthetic” rose 35%. It’s no wonder First Watch’s Tropical Sunrise campaign was a hit.  
  • Soft beverage options are influencing where Gen Z dines. Millennial parents are also prioritizing beverage variety. 
  • On the flip, views for r/whiskey are up 25% YOY on Reddit. 
  • Sustainability is top of mind and consumers are getting creative with what’s in their fridge. Searches for “discard recipes” rose 165% on Pinterest.

Bonus trend + Belle’s take: Mid-tier influencers (100-500k followers) plus allowlisting campaigns will be pivotal for restaurant and food brand growth in 2024. They have the trust + engagement of micro-influencers with a larger reach. Mid-tier influencers should be tapped for regional grand openings and promotions – and their content should be allowlisted to target additional markets (without needing additional partners). Check out Belle’s other 2024 influencer predictions.

Goals: Nostalgia is driving campaign performance

McDonald’s is clearly in-the-know with food trends. They recently opened their new concept, CosMc’s, a beverage-focused restaurant. The menu caters to beverage lovers with a breadth of options – from Blueberry Ginger Boosts to Chai Frappé Bursts. The concept also leans into another important trend: nostalgia

CosMc’s is inspired by their 1980’s “Story of Cosmic” ad. It gives a nod to Retroland McDonald’s. This isn’t McDonald’s first play at nostalgia. Earlier this year, they celebrated Grimace’s birthday with an LTO shake.

We’ve seen an uptick in nostalgia-based campaigns since the pandemic. These campaigns continue to perform, and senior marketers attribute that to the sense of comfort and familiarity they bring in this era of “uncertain times.” Nostalgia may pull on our heartstrings, but does it pull on our pursestrings, too? Yes, and it’s rooted in psychology. 

Nostalgic experiences tend to elicit optimism and happy feelings. According to psychologists, nostalgia connects us to other people, making it a powerful tool for brand awareness and association. Not only do they foster meaningful awareness, but nostalgic campaigns are high drivers of social engagement and sharing, too. These influencers are proof. 

The bottom line? Research shows nostalgic feelings will increase consumers’ willingness to buy. 

Are you planning any throwback campaigns for 2024? I personally hope to see a resurgence in Hit Clips.

DEI Download: Commitments to DEI skyrocketed from 2020-2022. In 2023, they were unfortunately deprioritized.

Companies cite culture wars and financial woes as reasons why DEI investments are down. That’s a moral and economic problem. Take it from McKinsey & Company: “Top-quartile companies for racial and ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians; companies in the top quartile for gender diversity, 15 percent.”

That said, it’s not enough to check a box in your marketing campaigns. Marketers must go beyond tokenism and truly prioritize inclusivity in 2024. The first step is making sure you have a diverse team in place. A team with several dimensions of diversity, such as race, sexual orientation, gender, age, neurodiversity and disabilities ensures more perspectives are represented. Diverse teams are also good for business. Deloitte found that “high-growth brands are 1.9X more likely to have DEI-related talent objectives than negative-growth brands.”

That’s it for 2023! Thanks for thinking big with us this year.

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Abby Papenfus

With extensive experience in B2B and B2C marketing, Abby Papenfus applies her love of analytics, research and creative strategy to connect-the-dots and drive what matters. She has led record-breaking influencer and PR campaigns for industry-leading brands like Nationwide Insurance, Big Lots and Dearfoams.