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Public Relations (PR) PR Stunts Marketing

Snoop Dogg blew PR smoke for a fire pit brand - did it work?


By VJ Anand, Head of creative

November 23, 2023 | 8 min read

VaynerMedia’s VJ Anand looks at the biggest campaign of the week, Snoop Dogg’s fake abstinence from smoking, to promote a fire pit brand.

Snoop Dogg

Snoop’s recent viral posts were a clever influencer marketing strategy for Solo Stove. With 82.9 million followers on Instagram and between 20-40 million on each of Facebook, TikTok and X, Snoop is big business on social. His Instagram post announcing he was quitting had 4.7 million likes and 174,000 comments.

Some people even vowed to quit smoking with him. “If snoop not smoking no more, that’s a big ass sign fr to all smokers,” declared a fan in the comments. “Not smoking, it’s the new smoking,” said another earnestly.

Days later, Snoop revealed it was all a clever marketing ploy. He was actually switching to Solo Stove’s “smokeless fire pits and grills, which produce less smoke and more flame.”

Cheesy? Very. But it worked.

And it continues to work. It’s not the first time a celebrity has pulled this kind of trick, and as we all continue to live on social media, it certainly won’t be the last.

To hear that Snoop Dogg, who is arguably as famous for his love of smoking marijuana as his music, quitting smoking was great clickbait. I’ll confess, I bought it.

Good for him, I thought. We might have Snoop around for a few more Dogg years.

It also got people talking about the product. Good advertising finds the right way to talk about product benefits, and this did that very well.

Influencer marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry, and there is much more to it than this. However, these stunts will continue to be a huge part of it over the next few years because of the eye-watering reach they achieve for brands.

It will completely change the world’s awareness of Solo Stove as a brand. That level of reach, combined with their wider marketing and pricing strategies, will have led to sales.

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But how many sales, exactly?

Our industry has a habit of reacting to a huge amount of noise on social, which is good; it’s where real people have conversations and create culture. Those moments are the ones modern marketers must be watching like a hawk to help make their brands relevant. Brands are waking up to that.

However, the industry as a whole is less expert at following up with proof that these moments help to drive business results. I, for one, really hope to see Solo Stove lifting the curtain next year. If it hugely drove sales and built an engaged community around its products, then the campaign was a raging success.

It’s fame, but at what cost?

The brand has paid for access to a huge audience and its trust in him. Most people who saw the campaign won’t mind that they were deceived. It’s all a bit of fun, and you can’t knock a rapper in his fifties for taking a payday like this.

A lot will find it funny. And with that humor comes positive brand association and perhaps even consideration. More fan comments upon the reveal read, ‘Whoever thought of this collab… pay raise!!!!!’, ‘This is literally the most genius marketing stunt I have ever seen,’ and ‘Screaming at the genius of this marketing strategy!!!!!’

Most marketers can only dream of that kind of feedback from real people and not industry boffins.

But if he tries it again, no one will believe him. It’s a limited-use strategy.

Is it OK to lie for clickbait?

It depends on the context. Snoop hasn’t hurt anybody. He’s known for pulling pranks and sharing comedy content using his platform. People who follow him know that the creative link between the setup and the product, while tenuous, works. He was the perfect ambassador for this.

But if the product was, say, a piece of medical equipment, an investment product, or something fans didn’t connect with at all, the concept takes on a much nastier side.

It boils down to understanding your product and understanding your audience. This begs the question, did Solo Stove research their consumers and find that the one thing that speaks to all of them is… Snoop Dogg? Judging by its previous marketing, we’re talking about young families who like camping, trips outdoors and wearing a lot of plaid shirts.

It is crucial to have multifaceted, realistic audience cohorts rather than relying on focus groups or age demographics. It’s hard to believe that swathes of Snoop Dogg fans are also interested in the benefits of smokeless fire pits.

But, for that section in the Venn diagram, it’s the perfect campaign. Here’s hoping that their purchasing power outweighs what Snoop Dogg costs, and next year, we’re celebrating the campaign as the spark that ignited a much bigger brand.

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