Mar 01

The 5 Best Food and Beverage Marketing Campaigns of 2018

Launching a new product this year or want to ramp up your brand’s awareness with a new marketing campaign? As a starting point, take a look at the 5 best food and beverage marketing campaigns of 2018. Fun and easy to digest, these selects created some memorable buzz and lasting impressions on a range of platforms.

PepsiCo Doritos Blaze vs MTN DEW ICEMorgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage Bring One Minute of Epic Entertainment in New Ad (PRNewsfoto/PepsiCo North America)

Fire 🔥 versus Ice ❄️

Every year, the Super Bowl commercials thrill fans just as much as the game itself. In Super Bowl 2018, Pepsico’s Dorito Blaze Chips versus Mountain Dew Lemon and Lime Ice ad gets two thumbs up! Launching 2 new products, the promo delivered sizzling production value, exciting visuals, cool celebrities, big entertainment, upbeat music, witty humor and an epic battle! All in 60 seconds!

The showdown starts with Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage snacking on Doritos Blaze. He lip syncs Busta Rhymes’ Look at Me Now while strutting through a gothic hallway igniting flames of fire.  In the reverse world, cool Morgan Freeman sips Mountain Dew Ice. He glides through another hallway freezing everything in sight while lip-syncing Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On”. The hip-hop rap battle ends in a fun split screen stare down. (Of course, Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott appear in cameos too!)

This ad wins on many levels. The content grabs and keeps your attention for the full 60 seconds. It created buzz before, during and after airing. Generating a peak of 11,000 tweets per minute, it took the Blitz award at Twitter’s first Brand Bowl. It was also the first time a company promoted two brands back to back in one commercial during the Super Bowl. Snacks and drinks are a priority for any super bowl audience so to pair food and beverage brands together was a brilliant way to create double brand awareness!

Click here to check out how brands are making emotional connections online in 2019.

Ice T x RXBARIce T cuts through the B.S. and dishes the real deal about RXBAR (Chicago Bar Company LLC. dba RXBAR)

No B.S.

Without any big production value, RXBAR’s marketing campaign for their line of protein bars also stood out last year. They created no-nonsense online videos. In one of the 15-second spots, the words No B.S. (or No Bad Stuff for kids) appears on the screen along with the RXBAR’s package.  The brand’s spokesperson, rapper and actor Ice T, pops out of a window and says: “Hi, I’m famous and this is a commercial.” Boom! Mic drop!

Their marketing campaign is totally in-sync with the brand’s no “B.S.” approach to the nutrition found in their bars and it translates into everything they do. The front of the package is simple. Just the whole ingredients are listed in bold letters. (3 egg whites, 6 almonds, 4 cashews, 2 dates, No B.S.)  Their website is straightforward and their FAQ’s forthright. They tell you they are owned by Kellogg’s. They tell you where they source their ingredients, which ingredients are organic and which are not. According to RXBAR, midway through the campaign’s run, awareness had increased from 8 percent to 15.3 percent. Take away: consistent brand values and messaging really do pay off!

Millennial parents are taking a “No B.S.” approach to parenthood. Click here to learn more.

Whatever Makes You Whole

In 2018, Whole Foods, post-Amazon acquisition, launched its first marketing campaign. The campaign “Whatever Makes You Whole” is an effort to shed its “whole paycheck” image. The marketing is a mix of short quirky ads showing fun personalized Whole Foods shopping experiences. In one spot, there’s a new dad loading up his shopping cart but forgetting the real reason for shopping (diapers!). In a Christmas spot, a shopper in the bakery section sings the 12 days of Christmas as she continuously adds one more cookie “aka golden ring” to her container. According to global VP of Marketing Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, “This campaign was really intended to move the brand to a much more human place … but also have a strong nod to the individuality and diversity of everyone that loves the brand.”  The ads get full marks on changing up the Whole Foods brand story!

The marketing ads are only one piece of the image transformation. To further lower prices, Whole Foods also offers exclusive deals and discounts for Amazon Prime members. Within the very first year, the foot traffic into the stores is gaining some traction at a micro level. According to surveys by consumer products research firm Tabs Analytics, the number of shoppers who visited a Whole Foods at least six times in the past year increased to 11% in August 2018 from 9% a year earlier.


In June of last year, IHOP teased on Twitter: “For 60 years, we’ve been IHOP. Now we’re flippin’ our name to IHOb. Find out what it could b on 6.11.18”.  For the following week, social media buzzed about what that little “b” could be. The hashtags #IHOP and #IHOB went viral accumulating more than 297 million impressions in the week leading up to June 11th. The “b” was for burgers. IHOP wanted to increase awareness that the IHOP brand flipped more than just pancakes, they flipped burgers too. Through one inexpensive tweet, this social media campaign quadrupled IHOP’s burger sales!  

Click here to check out 5 simple social media strategies for restaurants and QSRs.

KFC FCK, We're SorryIn The Sun and Metro, KFC ran a full-page print ad crafted by agency of record Mother London (KFC)

‘FCK’, We’re Sorry

One of the best marketing campaigns of 2018 (and not just in the food world) was hinged on a crisis. Nearly 900 KFC restaurants were forced to close in UK and Ireland because of a chicken shortage. What happens when a chicken chain has no chicken to serve? A backlash of unsatisfied customers with front line workers taking the brunt of the frustration.  It was a potential PR nightmare! How did the KFC operation transform disaster into pure marketing gold? They responded quickly and fried up a very funny, honest and humble apology. By rearranging the letters in KFC logo to “FCK” in the headline and a simple human “we’re sorry” in the tag line.

The apology hit the right tone. Customers flocked back in droves! The brand received kudos and respect on social media. Responses included “Not a fan of KFC, generally, but got to love their apology.” and “KFC back on the front foot this morning with print ad. A bit of humour goes a long way.”

The campaign won a silver and 3 gold Lions at Cannes. Adweek called it “a print ad headline for the ages.”  Meghan Farren, Chief Marketing Officer, KFC UK and Ireland says, “it wasn’t about winning at the time, it was about gaining back the trust of our customers.” The campaign ultimately worked because it made the KFC brand human. The public empathized and forgave them for their screw up.

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