Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr. and Froot Loops. What do these brands have in common?
Mini donuts. In late August, CKE Restaurant Group, owner of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., announced their collaboration with Kellogg’s and launched their Froot Loops mini donuts, which taste and smell like real Froot Loops, according to USA Today, Bustle and Food & Wine.
Added to the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.’s breakfast menus as a side option, Froot Loops mini donuts come in a five-pack, with red, yellow, green, blue and purple donuts, for just $1.99. But the most exciting part of these new sweets is the marketing behind the sugar.
The campaign for these mini donuts is the first CKE Restaurants took entirely digital, marketing to millennials and Gen Zers. With no traditional marketing incorporated, the campaign ran across Instagram, Snapchat, Spotify, Twitter and YouTube.
While their audience includes a variety of demographics and ages, CKE knew two specific segments would be the most excited about Froot Loops donuts: young parents and ‘90s babies. And that’s why the campaign ditched print and went totally digital.
Jeff Jenkins, Chief Marketing Officer at CKE, noted, “We’ve got to be where our customers are, and those customers are digital-first and phone-first.”
Because CKE began promoting the donuts before the release date, social media has been ablaze. The brand has already begun to see a return on investment in their earned media with a 55% increase in brand mentions on social year over year. Since the campaign dropped, #Hardees, #CarlsJr, #FrootLoopsDonuts and #NotMilk have been flooded with tweets from consumers trying the pastel-colored sweets.
CKE even recruited celebrities like Mario Lopez and Teegan Marie to spread the word about their new product.
Spreading brand awareness and generating buzz, Froot Loops donuts have been reported on by at least 200 different news sources like People, Delish and PopSugar. One Buzzfeed creator noted she was “immediately taken back to her childhood after trying [a Froot Loops donut].”
CKE reported their campaign has already surpassed expectations, as the digital communications reached individuals even in rural areas. According to AdExchanger, in Hyden, Kentucky, a town of 365 residents, Hardee’s sold enough Froot Loops donuts to feed 80% of the town’s population, likely due to the donuts’ online visibility.
The Growth of Digital and Social Media Marketing
From the inception of the internet-capable household computer, digital and social media marketing have been growing steadily and driving sales, as CKE’s latest campaign proves. Last year, the estimated global social media ad spend amounted to $41 billion and Forbes expects the U.S. digital marketing spend alone to reach $120 billion by 2021.
Now, with more than three-quarters of Americans possessing smartphones, mobile and social media marketing allow brands to easily interact with their targeted audiences. Statista notes that the number of companies using social media marketing has risen from 86.2% in 2013 to 90.5% in 2018. In fact, social media marketing and mobile marketing are both listed in the top ten most effective digital marketing techniques.
When Statista surveyed marketers about the benefits social media provides for their marketing strategies, increased exposure was at the top of the list.
CKE’s Jenkins explained how quickly the digital marketing growth is changing the way brands interact with consumers. “It’s a very different plan than we would’ve launched even three years ago,” he said. The success CKE found on social media, and the early sales seen in eastern Kentucky, prove digital marketing can bring products and services to all corners of the U.S., not just the metropolitan areas.
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