Meal Service Meltdown?

Meal Service Meltdown?

               I’ll be the first to admit that I am not much of a cook; which is why when my roommate started her subscription at Blue Apron, who according to FoodDive is the leading meal kit service by an estimated 17 percent, I thought it was a genius business venture. Meal kit services are convenient, healthy, and can be more cost effective than going out to dinner every night so why are they not performing as well as expected? And why are we seeing companies like Blue Apron flop when it comes to stocks and IPO’s?

               First of all, what started out as an explosive growing business is now starting to temper. In a CNBC article author Nick Wells states that more than half of meal kit subscribers cancel their subscriptions within the first six months primarily because consumers treat their food service subscriptions a lot like their New Year’s resolution to go to the gym, short lived. In fact, according to a study done by Cardlytics, in 2016 nearly three-quarters of new subscribers gave up on their service within a year. These cancellations are a huge deal for meal service companies like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated because they tend to give big discounts or freebies to draw customers in in the first place, and when that upfront cost doesn’t actually amount to a real subscription the company is at risk to lose a decent amount of money. Another aspect of the meal service kits that is having a slightly negative effect on the business is price. Yes, meal services are good for consumers (like me) whose first instinct in the kitchen is to leave and go to a restaurant, but for consumers who like to cook it is actually much more cost effective to go out and buy ingredients at a grocery store. According to a CNBC trial run, meal delivery service meals cost about $9.99 to $13.50 a portion; while shopping for the same meal at a grocery store would only cost $3.98 to $11.90. Lastly, with mergers like Amazon and Whole Foods it is really hard to predict what is in store for the future of online groceries and how that will effect meal service companies. Data shows that people who use meal kits also often utilize other on-demand purchasing habits, like Amazon Prime, UberEats, etc. so with the growth of that industry it is safe to predict that smaller independent meal service companies will have to fight to stay alive against giants like Amazon.

               Although the premise of this post focused on why meal service companies are not doing as well as predicted, we should not count them out too quickly. There are still a ton of loyal customers using Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Plated, etc. but if these companies want to stay relevant going forward they are going to have to think outside the box and come up with ways to keep their customer subscription rates up.

One Nation Under One Food?

One Nation Under One Food?

              Now that everyone’s Fourth of July celebrations are over and the hangovers are out of our systems, it feels like a good time to discuss food and nationalism. It is not uncommon for people to associate food and identity, as I’m sure the phrase “you are what you eat” rings a bell, but in the modern world, do food preferences really play a role as an anchor of personal and national identity, and should they? In a recent eater article called “Why Food has Become a New Target for Nationalists” the author, Tove Danovich, delves into how European cities, like Florence, feel their culture is being watered down through the rise of foreign food. European governments are even going as far as barring foods from different countries because they do not want their culture to be “diluted or Disneyfied.” To me, and many others this notion of banning foreign foods seems ridiculous, and at the end of the article Danovich makes a great point that no culture has just one history or one food, and if we try to isolate food culture we are just going to keep it from evolving.

               Clearly places like Italy and France have very distinct food identities which is why they want to preserve this idea of their “food nationalism,” but in a place like the United States, which is a country built from different cultures and cuisines, it’s hard to pinpoint one specific food identity. Although something like 88% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, which is a pretty large percentage, this once-a-year event hardly constitutes as a full identity. Personally, I don’t think having a lack of food identity is a bad thing at all. In the modern culinary world we see fusion restaurants, and all types of new trends that allow us to explore other communities and cultures through food. I’m not saying that food doesn’t play a big role in who we are and what we are as a nation, but in the United States I don’t view food as simply the glue that bonds individuals to their community, I view it as a bridge that brings different communities together.

The Merger

The Merger

               If you have been listening to the news recently, you know that last week Amazon bought Whole Foods Market Inc. for $13.7 billion. This deal will no doubt change the landscape of the grocery business since Amazon is the country’s biggest online retailer and none of the Whole Foods’ direct competitors will be able to match Amazon’s technological power, but how will this merge affect the restaurant industry? Probably not as much as one would think. This deal is going to push the industry, but towards an area that it is already going. If you look at whole foods, it has already taken some share from the restaurant industry, for example some of their stores look more like food halls than grocery stores, and Amazon’s new ownership can only strengthen that competitive edge, but the restaurant industry is so large and diverse that it should be able to adapt. Also, a lot more restaurant sales are going to start coming through apps, with either a third party provider or from the companies themselves. According to a Euromonitor study, online restaurant sales were $12 billion in 2016. Although that is only about 2.2 percent of all overall restaurant industry sales, it is still something. So even though many consumers and employees who are part of the restaurant industry are worried about a giant tech company buying a food company, restaurants have already started to move in the tech direction, and this merger will only encourage restaurants to continue to do more of their business online.

Mythical Mayhem

Mythical Mayhem

               If you have been on any form of social media in the past year you have most likely come across some type of “unicorn” food or drink. This recent trend of colorful food has gone from shimmery and sparkly “galaxy” themed to rainbow and pastel “unicorn” themed but none the less ridiculous. Yes, even I find this trend crazy and I tend to be a sucker for anything bright and shiny. Regardless of how I feel, these types of trends seem to draw in revenue, while simultaneously providing brands with endless free advertising.

               First, it is interesting to note that the unicorn food trend started from a health and wellness blogger and food stylist in Miami named Adeline Waugh. Waugh helped start the trend last year while she was experimenting with natural food dye that added a pop of color to her Instagram photos and got people excited. Once bigger brands and companies started to hear about this trend they took it into their own hands, and took it to the next level. Starbucks, for example, recently created the “Unicorn Frappuccino.”

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This new colorful drink was sold at Starbucks across the country, and “drove significant traffic to chains, as well as spread brand awareness and affinity.” Served for only a limited time, the craziest part about these bright (almost glowing) purple and pink drinks is that even though they apparently taste terrible people continued to buy them. I personally never got to try one, but as seen on shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and hearing reviews from friends, they taste like Unicorn vomit. Regardless of taste, the Unicorn Frappuccino helped improve Starbucks same-store sales throughout the second quarter, culminating 4 percent of U.S. same-store sales growth in March, and into April. Also, the number of Instagram’s, Tweets, and posts about this mythical drink were endless; providing Starbucks with free marketing across all social channels which doesn’t even include the mass amounts of traction it gained on television shows, like Jimmy Kimmel Live! (mentioned above) and more. Starbucks is an example of a large chain brand that took advantage of this colorful food trend but many other smaller stores are also jumping on the bandwagon and taking advantage of this trend too. The Good Sort, a vegan tea and espresso bar in Chinatown is serving up a rainbow iced latte that has already been featured in magazines like Cosmopolitan, Thrillist, and Grubstreet. They are also getting a lot of social attention just in time for summer.

               Only time will tell how long this unicorn trend lasts, but for now it seems to be working for companies. Whether you look at a large business like Starbucks or a small coffee shop like The Good Sort, these colorful concoction’s draw in a ton of attention which leads to more revenue and company exposure; so, if you haven’t jumped on this latest unicorn trend maybe it’s time to for your brand to brighten itself up and get on board.

Let's Get Digital

Let's Get Digital

               From food and drink to toiletries, you can find almost anything in a supermarket. You could literally spend hours walking up and down the aisles finding items you didn’t even know you needed; but my question is, with today’s technology and ability to order whatever you need with just the click of a button, are grocery stores and supermarkets going to start getting digital?

               The answer is yes, right now, about two thirds of food retailers have online recipes and mobile friendly sites, and at least one third of grocers include online ordering, but these trends are way more prevalent among larger operators. According to the Shelby Report, supermarkets with 50-plus stores are more likely to drive technology in their promotions and advertising, they are also more willing to spend significant time and money on these digital investments. Grocers are racing to get into the game to beat off large competitors like Amazon and Walmart so they are creating promotions that can only be found on websites and mobile apps, as well as experimenting with online ordering, and digital coupons.

               For a glimpse of how technology can affect supermarkets let’s take a look at Kroger. Kroger has over 2,000 stores which makes it the largest supermarket chain in the US and in recent years Kroger has focused a lot on upping their technology. Not only have they put in infrared sensors to monitor foot traffic, they have created a mobile app that can analyze customers shopping habits, and they have started using a digital coupon system. Chris Hjelm, Korger’s chief information officer said, “We want to bring technology to life in the store,” which they have clearly done successfully. These new technologies have not only helped bring in more customers, but it has also cut the waiting time at the supermarket and created a more interactive experience for buyers.

               Digital tools are the perfect way for grocers to fight back against larger companies like Amazon. According to a Wall Street Journal article, 49% of shoppers are using digital coupons and 47% look up recipes on the supermarket’s website. If grocers want to stay in business it is necessary that they start shifting to a more digital industry. Whether dealing with a supermarket that has 2,000 plus chains, or just one, owners should start spending their money on upping technology.

The Rise of Food Halls

The Rise of Food Halls

               Remember when the cool thing to do was hang out with your friends at the mall? Well, I do. In my preteen and teenage years there was nothing more fun than spending a Saturday afternoon in the food court people watching and eating as many samples as possible. Fast forward a few years and the food court concept has gone from low end chain restaurants to high end dining experiences that attract foodies of all ages. With just a slight change in name and a significant change in quality, high end food halls have become a trend all across the country.

               Unlike a traditional food court, the size of food halls are smaller, ranging anywhere from 5,000 to 40,000 square feet. These food halls are getting smaller and compact so they are easily able to fit into existing urban spaces. Food halls are also become more prevalent in mixed-use residential buildings. For example the food hall at Essex Crossing. Essex Crossing is a huge development going up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and one of the reasons so many tenants were attracted to this space is because of the high end food hall being built on site. Food halls are also popping up in commercial buildings. For example, The Food Hall at Main and Rusk which is set to open in the JPMorgan Chase building in Houston Texas, or Hudson Eats the “all-star” food hall at Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan that houses stalls like Blue Ribbon Sushi, and Umami Burger. In general, these food halls are becoming a key amenity in both commercial and residential buildings, attracting people who are looking for a place to live, work, and dine in a unique way.

               Upscale food halls are more than just a place to grab a quick bite, they are treated as a true destinations. Everything from vendor placement to seating is thoroughly thought out, providing guests with an immersive culinary experience, and whether there is a constant theme, or a mixture of eclectic cuisines, high end food halls create the perfect place for consumers to explore new dining options at the highest quality.

               Looking at the future of dining, I think we are just getting started with this concept of upscale food halls. If curated correctly food halls draw in a ton of revenue, and there is no doubt we will start seeing more and more of these popping up across the country, especially with the rise of urban development. Although I will always have a special place in my heart for the free samples of PF Chang’s bourbon chicken given out at the Westchester Mall, the foodie in me is excited to see a popular shift towards well-executed, high end food halls.

The Farming Feud

The Farming Feud

               If you work in a small office you know nothing goes unheard. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of listening to two of my coworkers argue over vertical farming and what it means for the future of agriculture. After about 20 minutes they gave up the fight and agreed to disagree. Although they were done with this topic for now, their discussion sparked my curiosity and lead me to write this blog! So, what exactly does vertical farming mean for the future of agriculture?

               First, let me provide a little background on what vertical farming is. Vertical farming is the practice of producing food in vertically stacked layers, such as in a used warehouse, or a shipping container. The idea behind vertical farming is to be able to control all environmental factors that affect farming, like humidity, temperature, and amount of sunlight. There are two major techniques used for vertical farming. The first technique is called hydroponics which means the plants are grown in a nutrient-rich base of water. And the second technique is aeroponics, in which the roots of crops are periodically sprayed with a mist containing water and nutrients.

               Now that we all know a little bit about vertical farming, let’s look at the pros and cons of this recent farming method. The first major pro is that vertical farming yields more crops per square meter than any traditional farms or greenhouses do, and since our population is rapidly growing being able to yield more crops is huge. Another pro is that vertical farming uses a lot less water, and grows plants faster. Also, these vertical farming facilities can in theory be built anywhere, which means we will be able to grow crops in the world’s worst climates. Finally, vertical farming can be great for the average consumer, for example grocery stores or supermarkets can build miniature vertical farms of their own, allowing customers to buy fresh crops right in store.

               Even with all of those positives, vertical farming still has some red flags. The biggest problem with vertical farming is how much energy it uses. Vertical farms depends on a constant supply of electricity, much of which will come from fossil fuels, so even though vertical farms use less water and grow crops faster, they are eating up a ton of energy. As Michael Hamm, a professor of sustainable agriculture of Michigan State University questions, “why would we waste that energy to produce a whole lettuce, when we can get light from the sun?” Michael also points out that it doesn’t make economic sense to grow some crops this way: “at 10 cents a kilowatt hour, the amount of energy it would take to produce wheat would translate to something like $11 dollars for a loaf of bread.” Finally, even though the average consumer might not mind the idea of growing plants indoors, from a culinary standpoint, chefs and restaurateurs want the freshest ingredients, and will probably not stand for produce grown under a light.

               After my research, I fully understand why my coworkers came to such a standstill in their argument. Vertical farming has its pros and is a technique that will continue to develop over the years, but I do not think this method of farming will take over the world of agriculture any time soon. Fresh fruits and vegetables grown from natural sunlight are too valuable, and we can’t forget that there is an entire farming industry that has been around for ages, and doesn’t plan on going away anytime soon. 

Food of the Future

Food of the Future

               It’s the year 2017, and although flying cars haven’t been invented yet, three dimensional printers have. These 3D printers, which can fit on a desktop, can form objects from plastics, metals, and even FOOD! Food printing is a more recent frontier that could potentially improve nutritional value of meals, or help solve hunger issues in regions of the world that lack access to fresh, and affordable ingredients.

               First, let’s talk about the basics of 3D food printing. Most 3D food printers are deposition printers, which means they deposit layers of raw material, while a newer category of 3D printers binds together materials with a kind of edible cement. The latest generation of 3D printers is also the most complex, combing nozzles, powdery material, lasers, and robotic arms to create things like sugar sculptures and latticed pastry. Although much more complicated, these newer printers can create food, like pizza, with fresh ingredients loaded into stainless steel capsules, pretty cool if you ask me.

               Now that you have a slight background on 3D printers, how can they actually help? 3D printing can help increase sustainability. The global population is always growing, which means food production is going to have to increase as well. Although 3D printing won’t fully solve all our sustainability problems, it will definitely contribute to the solution. Renewable materials like grass and algae could be used in 3D printing making it easier and more sustainable to feed parts of the ever growing population. Another issue that 3D printers could help with is nutrition. The future of 3D food printers could make processed food healthier. According Hod Lipson, a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia, “food printing could allow consumers to print food with customized nutritional content, optimized based on biometric and genomic data, so instead of eating a slice of yesterday’s bread from the supermarket, you’d eat something baked just for you on demand. This may be the missing link between nutrition and personal medicine, and the foods that’s on your table.” Sustainability and nutrition only scratches the surface of what 3D food printing could do for our society.

               As exciting as this all is, especially with all the recent advancements in 3D food printing, the industry has many challenges to overcome before making any of these dreams a reality. Currently, most ingredients have to be turned into paste before the printer can work with them plus the printing process takes a very long time. Also, as of now most 3D printers are restricted to dry, shelf-stable ingredients because products like diary and protein have a high risk of spoiling. Even with all the challenges scientists and engineers have to face, 3D food printing could become our future, times change and as Lynette Kucsama, CEO and founder of Natural Machines said, “when people first head about microwaves, they didn’t understand the technology- now 90 percent of households have them.”

All About Allergies

All About Allergies

Raise your hand if you woke up this morning with itchy eyes and a runny nose. If you’re anything like me and have terrible seasonal allergies, your hand is high in the air. This topic of allergies got me thinking, how do restaurants deal with food allergies, and do food allergies negatively affect the restaurant industry?

               First it’s important to note that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention performed a study that said an estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies; that’s a lot of people. As we sit down for dinner in a restaurant with friends, family, or colleagues, we often take for granted how much effort goes into meal preparation, especially meals that adhere to food safety guidelines; which includes the accommodation of a myriad of allergies. This isn’t easy, but it is something that has to be done. Some restaurants even go far enough to create separate menus for allergies like tree nuts, eggs, shellfish, and dairy. Although most, if not all restaurants take allergy precautions, the approach to actual food allergen training for restaurants is haphazard at best.  As of now only Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Virginia have laws designed to make it safer for individuals with food allergies to dine. Although only five states have legitimate laws in place about food allergies all restaurants train their staff in how to deal with these issues, and Mike Spigler, vice president of the education non-profit group Food Allergy Research & Education says, “It’s inevitable that laws similar to those already in place will pop up in other states soon.”

               Food allergies aren’t solely the responsibility of the restaurant and restaurant staff. Diners who have food allergies have responsibilities here, too. It is up to them to let their server know, or even better let the restaurant know beforehand about what kind of dietary restrictions they are dealing with so that said restaurant can be ready to accommodate.

               Food allergies are not the most fun issue to deal with in a restaurant, but when the word “allergy” does enter the conversation, any expert will tell you that chefs can’t afford to be doubtful. I actually give restaurants a lot of props because they do a very good job dealing with food allergies and being accommodating to customers. Overall, to answer my questions from above, restaurants deal with food allergies by taking extra precaution like building out separate menus for their customers, or being easily able to switch parts of a dish; and although allergies can be a pain, I wouldn’t say that they have an outwardly negative effect on the industry. Food allergies, seasonal allergies, or really any type of allergy is a hassle to deal with but an issue that needs to be monitored; so if you’re a restaurant, keep taking precaution, and if you are a like me, take a few Claritin.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Culinary Edition

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Culinary Edition

               If you ever took a middle school environmental science class you have probably heard the term “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” This “three R” mantra of environmentalists everywhere is also very applicable to restaurants, and chefs around the country. According to the U.S. Department of agriculture, an estimate of 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the United States goes to waste each year. That’s a lot of food, and a lot of money going straight in the trash. These days, restaurant owners, and chefs are making a conscious effort to minimalize their food waste, let’s take a look:

               One popular and effective solution is composting. Composting, which is the process of making food or other matter into compost, or decayed organic material, is a great solution for anyone trying to reduce waste. A compost station is not only easy to set up but they can be as large or small as one wants, making it the perfect solution for a single restaurant, or an entire city. For example in 2015, Seattle made it a law to fine people who don’t compost their food waste. Although most cities haven’t placed fines on composting, they have jumped on the composting bandwagon. From San Francisco to New York City, composting has become a popular trend. Not only is composting effective because it reduces food waste, but it also creates rich soil that can be used to grow fresh ingredients, proving to be a win-win situation for any chef or restaurant trying to reduce waste while simultaneously serving the freshest ingredients.

 

               Another solution being used by chefs and restaurants across the country seems pretty obvious, but if actually applied can effectively reduce waste. This solution is simply to rethinking what is waste and what is not. The old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” definitely applies in this case. There is a huge variety of dishes you can cook with food items that may seem like they should be discarded. For example, bones can be used to create broth for soups and stews, or the skin of the potato can be used to make “alternative French fries.” Simply thinking outside the box, and rethinking what is waste and what is not is a great way for chefs and restaurants to save a ton of food and money; and who knows? Maybe your recycled dish will become your most popular.

               Lastly, it is extremely important to plan ahead. Whether you order your ingredients on a weekly basis, or biweekly basis take the time to see if you are buying a surplus of food. While some waste is inevitable, take note of how much food was thrown out the week before and then decide if you have ordered too much. This process might take a few weeks to figure out and is not always the most effective, but it does show an effort to reduce food waste.

               The amount of food wasted in the United States is a huge issue that has been around for a long time. Although it is unrealistic to think that chefs and restaurants will be able to eliminate their food waste completely, it is crucial that we are conscious of this issue and are always trying to reduce as much waste as possible. Composting, rethinking how to use ingredients, and being aware of how much food is being ordered are only a few examples of how to fix this issue. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” shouldn’t be taken lightly in the culinary industry. Being mindful of food waste not only helps the environment, but it will also help increase annual profit for chefs and restaurants; which in my book is a very valid reason to be aware.  

Will Travel for Food

Will Travel for Food

If you have kids in school or are a kid in school, you probably know we are in the midst of Spring Break season. This crazy time where college kids hit the beach for multiple nights of drunken debauchery (they still do that, right?) and parents with kids still living at home, try and figure out where to take the family so they don’t kill each other sitting at home all week with nothing to do.

Since I have two young kids, the only natural thing for us to do for spring break this year was embark on an 8 hour drive to Williamsburg, VA. About two hours into our drive I heard a noise that wasn’t the radio; it was my stomach telling me it was almost time to stop for food! As we were driving down the highway looking for a good place to stop, I started thinking about the importance of food as part of the travel equation and how technology, and food & travel TV shows have changed and enhanced the way we eat while on the road. 

First let’s discuss app technology. As we all know there are apps for everything these days, there is even an app called Yo., that’s sole purpose is to send someone a voice-note saying “yo;” so when it comes to food and travel there is no shortage of apps either. Jetzy, the world’s first geo-location based, user-to-user social app connects people with a passion for all things travel, like food. Allowing users to connect with one another and share their favorite restaurant, hotel, or site is one aspect of this app that makes it great for finding the most popular spots at or on your way to a destination. To make Jetzy even more appealing to consumers the app offers “JetPoints” that can be redeemed and used towards things like dining out, or going to the spa. Jetzy’s motto is “Travel like a Local” and it really does allow travelers to get connected to all the best native places. Another great recourse for food and traveling is Citymaps. Similar to Jetzy, Citymaps allows users to mark and share maps of all the places they have traveled. This app is extremely customizable and has endless amounts of data for users to engage in. Both Jetzy and Citymaps aren’t strictly food related apps but they can provide consumers with just as much, or more insight on where to eat while traveling than sites like Yelp.

Travel TV shows are also a great outlet for travelers who are looking for good places to dine on the road. Anthony Bourdain, “bad-boy” chef and best-selling author, starred in the Emmy award winning Travel Channel show called “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” which hit all the culinary hotspots and out-of-the-way gems around the globe. Similarly Andrew Zimmern travels around the world in a quest for the strangest foods he can find in his show, “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.” You can even tune into Guy Fieri on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” which focuses more on lesser known hot spots around the United States. Although harder to utilize on the road, these shows are great to watch in preparation of travel.

Apps and Travel TV are helping turn the average spring break road trip into a foodie’s dream drive. Also, these resources aren’t only great for consumers, restaurant owners can benefit from them as well. For example, a month after Guy Fieri featured Brick House Café, a small café in Cable, Wisconsin, on his show their sales were up 500%. Being able to easily locate and share stand out destinations has changed the way people view traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I know no one ever complained about going on vacation, but the process of actually getting to your destination can be a drag, with travel apps and shows like the ones discusses above, the once dreaded excursion can actually feel like part of the vacation.

'Tis (Always) the Season

'Tis (Always) the Season

I love the holidays, and not just the popular ones like Christmas and Halloween, I celebrate them all. You know who else loves holidays? Brands and marketers. It wasn’t until I started working in the industry that I realized brands love to take advantage of every single holiday, even ones as minor as April Fool’s Day. Before I start talking about why I think it is so smart for brands to utilize even the smallest of holidays, here are a few examples of recent marketing campaigns focused around minor holidays.

Ben & Jerry’s and Earth Day:

               In 2015 Ben & Jerry’s decided to celebrate Earth Day by creating a new flavor called, “Save Our Sworld.” They created this flavor to bring attention to the pressing issue of our environment and climate change. Not only did Ben & Jerry’s create this exciting new flavor, but they also backed up their message by partnering with Tesla, the electric car company, to launch their new flavor and show the world they are using less fuel. Ben & Jerry’s also created the 100% Clean Power Petition and put it on their website so customers could get involved. Producing an Earth Day campaign did wonders for the Ben & Jerry’s brand. Not only did they profit from the new flavor they created, it was also a great PR move. How could you dislike a brand that is trying to help make the “sworld” a better place?

SodaStream and April Fool’s Day:

               First, I know what many of you are thinking, is April Fool’s Day even a real holiday? Yes, yes it is (at least in my opinion, which for the sake of this blog is all that matters.) Anyway, this year SodaStream paired up with Paris Hilton to create an April Fool’s day campaign that according to Adweek, “deserved a special shoutout.” To fool the world, Paris Hilton starred in a fake video promoting SodaStream’s new product, “NanoDrop,” a fictitious sparking-water product that claims to be 5,000 times more hydrating than regular water. Although the NanoDrop was a joke, this campaign was far from laughable. The Paris Hilton/NanoDrop ad helped spread the word about the SodaStream brand. This prank even spread awareness about the SodaStream across the world, ending up in publications like The Times of Israel.

Krispy Kreme and St. Patrick’s Day:

             A doughnut is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about St. Patrick’s Day, but Krispy Kreme found a creative way to get involved in the festivities. This year, for one day only, Krispy Kreme turned all of their original glazed doughnuts into “O'riginal Glazed Green Doughnuts”! Dying foods green for St. Patrick’s Day is not a new discovery by any means, but because Krispy Kreme is such a traditional and well-known brand, the news of them changing one of their most popular products earned the company a lot of press. Also, by making this a “one day only” promotion, it created a sense of urgency for the customers to go and buy a unique green doughnut. By giving in to the holiday spirit and turning their traditional glazed doughnut green, Krispy Kreme sure hit the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

No matter what marketing angle you chose, holidays, even the smallest of them, provide brands and marketers the opportunity to think outside the box and be creative. Also, tying in the holidays to campaigns helps humanize your brand. It helps connect with you audience on a more personal, fun level, and it allows your message to resonate with the customers current state of mind. Whether it is Earth Day, April Fool’s, St. Patty’s, or something as mainstream as Christmas, brands can’t go wrong with holiday themed marketing campaigns.