I’ve always found it extremely funny when someone thinks that just because you have spent an inordinate amount of money on something, it should naturally translate into a big return on that investment. Like when the most blank canvas of personalities overcompensates with the most expensive designer clothes from head to toe to create the illusion that they really are about that luxury lifestyle and still go extremely unnoticed. I begin this passage with that previous example because that’s exactly what Solo Stove’s most recent campaign for their smokeless fire pit reminded me of; however, instead of a dull person wearing designer, it’s a clueless marketing board using Snoop Dogg to promote a fire pit no one, literally NO ONE, as the numbers will soon prove, wanted.
A little bit of a backstory for those who may not know what I’m talking about. On November 16th 2023, Snoop Dogg went to Twitter (Yes, I still call it Twitter. If you have a problem with that, either pay me to call it X or kindly direct your presence away from my existence) and posted a tweet captioned “I’m giving up smoke” followed by a picture including the following caption: “After much consideration with my family, I’ve decided to give up smoke. Please respect my privacy at this time.” Now, naturally, this would cause mass curiosity and speculation. ‘What?! The Smoke Daddy himself has decided to stop smoking?! Oh no, this has to be a bad dream! It just has to be! What am I going to do with all my weed now?!’ And in fairness, it’s completely valid to think this way.
Part of Snoop Dogg’s character and brand is literally how much of an avid smoker he is. Therefore, the tweet went viral. However, only one thing crossed my mind when I first saw this: “Why did he say ‘I’m giving up smoke’ as opposed to saying ‘I’m giving up smoking’? Wouldn’t the latter make more sense… Oh, someone just gave him a BAG, huh.” And as it would later be revealed, that’s EXACTLY what it was: a publicity stunt.
At the time of this stunt, brand awareness for Solo skyrocketed, as the previous CEO of Solo, John Merris (yeah, keyword previous — keep this in mind) said that shortly after this ad, Solo had gained over 60,000 followers on social media. Merris remarked that the idea was genius and upon hearing it the company was eager to contact Snoop Dogg and get him on board. Claiming it didn’t take much convincing, they managed to get Snoop to send out the viral tweet a week before Black Friday (clever). Then, on November 20th, Solo Stove dropped the “Snoop Dogg Goes Smokeless” ad on their official YouTube channel, which currently has over 1.5 million views, and Snoop Dogg dropped the ad on his Twitter account, which has over 60 million views and over 300,000 likes. It was then later revealed Snoop had his own branded “Snoop Dogg Solo Stove” which reportedly was said to have quickly sold out.
Now naturally, the campaign seemed like a huge success. It increased brand awareness, had hundreds of news outlets talking about it, and it generated much traffic to Solo Stove. Ad Age even placed it in their top 40 best Ads of 2023. Now, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of it all. After this incredible campaign, one question soon entered everyone’s mind: what was the ROI?!
Underwhelming sales which caused them to replace their CEO, John Merris with new CEO Chris Metz…. Oops.
Andrea Tarbox, who served as the interim CEO, released a statement in regards to how the brand exposure did not equate to the sales they had expected, and their fourth quarter results fell below expectations.
Now, I am by no means an experienced managing director who has managed brands and companies ushering campaigns that go off into the tens of millions, but I am not surprised in the slightest by the failure of this campaign, and my reasons can honestly be simplified like this: who wants a smokeless fire pit from a company no one knows about? Now, I say “no one” generally, of course, Solo have had their successes, but what about your brand indicates you have any sort of connection or affiliation with the audience Snoop Dogg garners? In this day and age, you will find the most random celebrities and internet personalities on board with some pretty bizarre campaigns, yes, but more often than not, it’s not exactly a departure from that aforementioned brand or reputation of those individuals or parties. The association Snoop Dogg has to weed and the association he would have to a smokeless fire pit, on surface level, would allow this campaign to make sense; which is why, especially in the day and age of current virality, would easily explode the awareness of any brand that would affiliate themselves with him. But it stops JUST there, with awareness.
Let’s just apply some very basic math and probability.Out of the 60+ million viewers Snoop Dogg’s video got alone on Twitter, roughly, only 0.5% of that viewership liked the video. Expected. Views-to-like conversions will always orbit around the lower percentile, but you now have to think how many out of the 0.5% would actually think: “You know what… I’m gonna buy myself a smokeless fire pit because of how clever this campaign was. I probably won’t have a need for it, even in the Winter time, but hey, Snoop Dogg made me laugh.” Call me whatever you want, but I really do think this was an out-of-touch action if generating sales was your end goal here. That lack of foresight and going based off of how smart the idea is on the surface level does not make an outcome like this surprising in any way — at least not to me. Like I said in the beginning, the nobody rocking designer is still going to end up being a nobody when all is said and done.
At the end of the day, was the press leading up to the campaign clever? Yes, if you mistook a calculator for a TV remote, you probably would’ve found this clever. But I strongly believe those who could see just a little bit further into the execution of this campaign, I’d argue that they would agree that this wasn’t the most strategic move to pull if sales were what you wanted to generate. Hopefully, this campaign can help propel Solo Stove into making better-coordinated marketing moves in the future and usher in a much more successful 2024. Metz, please don’t pick up a famous celebrity and think their clout will help you generate more sales. The one thing I really want to know is this: just how much did they offer Uncle Snoop to do this? Because it must’ve been a pretty nice bag, they had to drop.