Food brands + non-food merch: a match made in…wait, what?

Robin Emiliani  /  Mar 03, 2021

If I told you the world is crazy right now, you’d probably roll your eyes at me. Because: duh. What’s new?

Last year gave us zombie minks and a Floridian controversy about whether or not people should eat pythons. And if I listed the conspiracy theories and weird news of the first couple months of 2021, we’d be here all day.

With all that in mind, you won’t be shocked to hear that marketing has also gotten a little weird in the last 14 months.

(And, as you’ll recall, we’re fans of weird.)

The weird we wanted to talk about today is the little avalanche of food brands embracing non-food merch.

Yep, you heard us right.

Stouffer’s is coming in strong with bright orange macaroni-and-cheese hoodies and sweatpants, lasagna onesies for grown-ups, and yellow-orange noodle socks. Nissin Foods is in the game with Hello Kitty Cup-o-Noodle sweatshirts. And Doritos, Cheetos, and Tostitos ugly sweaters are bringing their own cozy creativity to the table.

I mean, you are what you eat, am I right? Food brands just decided to take us literally.

All jokes aside, this is an interesting strategy.

Firstly, because with 50% of America working at home, a lot of us have embraced sweatpants and cozy sweaters and, yes, even onesies on a day-to-day basis. Cozy is king and queen and the whole court when many of us are in productivity mode and don’t have a video call coming up.

(If you’re one of the few still in office attire and aren’t sure you believe me that everyone else is reading this in their Bugs Bunny onesies, consider that sweatpants sales jumped by 80% last April.)

Then there’s the fact that we desperately want some whimsy and lightness. People are adopting puppies at record rates (and pet supplies are flying off the proverbial shelves). Romance novels saw a 17% sales jump. And the most watched Netflix series of 2020 was the weird-as-they-come Tiger King.

Whimsy is never a bad strategy, and right now it’s particularly timely one.

So, we kind of love that food brands took a weird little leap in the last year. And we love that we’re seeing more and more brands get creative like that—from creating dating ads from hell to forging unlikely partnerships.

Thinking of doing something weird with your own marketing? We’d love to help you brainstorm, strategize, and create campaigns full of whimsy. Reach out anytime.


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