Hostess Snack Cake Case Study

HOW DO YOU MOUNT ONE OF THE GREATEST COMEBACKS IN HISTORY, FOR A LEGENDARY SNACK CAKE BRAND THAT HAS NO BUDGET? YOU ENLIST, EMPOWER AND CELEBRATE THE BRAND’S BROKEN-HEARTED, LOYAL FANS TO HELP SPREAD THE GOOD WORD.

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HOW DID WE IDENTIFY WHO WAS MISSING SNACK CAKES THE MOST, THEN DETERMINE WHAT THE BATTLE CRY WOULD BE? FOR US, IT ALL BEGAN WITH DIGGING DEEP INTO THE CUSTOMERS’ HEARTS AND MINDS (AND TWITTER FEEDS), THEN UNEARTHING ITS DELECTABLE BOUNTY.

Problem

A new owner and hopeful resurrector of Hostess needed a marketing miracle to relaunch the 90-year-old brand and reignite a love affair with consumers with next to no budget.

Insights

Research determined our target of 25-54-year-old Moms wanted to be able to talk the talk with their kids. But our social media audits from the previous 8 months revealed formerly untapped admiration for Hostess among male Millennials. Jackpot. We had our troubadours, now we just had to inspire them with the right song.

Solution

  1. Knowing this finicky Millennial target preferred to discover brands on their own, then self-promote and be creative themselves, we designed an integrated multi-channel campaign that reached them through social media, radio, outdoor, street teams, special events, PR and more.
  2. Next, we pre-launched, announcing the return of the beloved cakes on 7/15/13 via OOH boards in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. In addition, we kicked off the Prepare Your Cakeface street team and social initiative to show us your cake face.
  3. Last but not least, we rounded the campaign out by officially announcing Hostess’s return as “The sweetest comeback in the history of ever”. In the end, we leveraged consumers’ broken hearts in a tongue-in-cheek way, reuniting them with the brand they loved.

Results

  • Stores sold out of Twinkies within the first 24 hours
  • #Twinkies trended in the US with 464.9 million Twitter impressions
  • #Cakeface trended nationally on Vine
  • Over 12,000 BuzzFeed article views
  • 25% increase in Facebook fans
  • 2000% increase in Instagram followers
  • Most importantly, 185% increase in Twinkie sales (complemented with 53% increase in Hostess Cupcake sales)

From ashes to IPO, from bygone icon to current pop culture, these guys created one of the greatest brand turnarounds in the history of ever.

Rich Seban
Retired Vice Chairman of Hostess