Memorial Day barbecues are back and better than ever — and so are the ads. Food and beverage brands are firing up their social media accounts and serving up ads for tasty snacks and refreshing beverages to kick off the start of summer.
And with nearly 60 percent of Americans grilling over the holiday weekend, advertisers who get their channel strategy and creative messaging right have a lot to gain. Let’s look at how three of the top advertisers in the Food & Beverage category — Hershey’s candy, Frito-Lay, and Blue Moon — spent their digital advertising dollars from the beginning of May through Memorial Day.
Hershey’s Declares Summer "S'mores Season" on Social Media
S’mores are a summer staple, and Hershey’s didn’t overlook the opportunity to heavily promote its milk chocolate bars in time for Memorial Day weekend.
Four of the brand’s top ten creatives by spend were variations of a video titled “S’mores Season”, which features a mom and three kids making s'mores in the backyard. The video ends with the oldest child, a teenage boy, leaning in to hug his mom, and the words “Enjoy s’more good times together”.
Ads on Facebook and Instagram also highlighted the campfire favorite. One Facebook creative invited people to “Spend the long weekend on the grill, with plenty of s’mores to go around” and “Grill s’more than just the main course”.
The month of May represents Hershey candy’s highest spend so far this year, with $19 million invested in digital ads in the last 30 days. Social media dominated the brand’s strategy, with 28 percent of its spend on Facebook and 67 percent overall. Pathmatics Snapchat and Tiktok ad intelligence reveals that Hershey spent 13 percent of its budget — about $2.4 million — on these channels. TikTok saw its biggest spike in spend on May 29, and on that day alone Hershey spent $29,800 on TikTok ads.
Frito-Lay Sticks to Its Usual Creative Strategy, but Switches Up Its Advertising Channels
After s’mores, chips were the leading snack advertised for Memorial Day. Frito-Lay spent $8.7 million on digital ads from May 1 to May 30, 2022. Its top brands to promote were summer barbecue favorites Doritos, Lays, Cheetos, and Tostitos.
For the most part, Frito-Lay stuck to its usual creative strategy in the weeks leading up to the holiday weekend. The brand leveraged similar creatives across all its platforms, repurposing longer videos from OTT and YouTube into ads for social media. Its top Facebook creatives are all video posts, ranging from Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan road tripping with a bag of Lay’s potato chips, to spicy
promos for Flamin’ Hot Doritos, to a clip announcing new packaging for Frito Lay’s variety packs with the text, “Same great snacks, now in a box”.
None of its creatives mentioned Memorial Day directly, but we did spot a lot of pool parties and barbecues in the background, signifying that Frito-Lay is ready for summer. One ad states, “Get your favorite snacks for summer! Be on the beach, trails, or in your backyard, Frito-Lay has the perfect side for it.”
Frito-Lay split its budget evenly between video advertising and social media throughout the month of May, with 47 percent on YouTube/OTT and 52 percent on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. Then, over Memorial Day weekend, the brand pulled back on all of its social media ads, with 91 percent of its budget from May 27 to May 30 going toward YouTube and streaming services. Clearly, Frito-Lay is expecting consumers to be bingeing on more than just chips over the holiday weekend.
Blue Moon Bets Its Entire Budget on a Handful of Creatives
Nothing screams summer like an ice cold beer. As the weather heats up, beer ads are rolling out — and none have been promoted with as much budget as Blue Moon. After barely advertising Blue Moon at all during the winter months, parent company Molson Coors threw $5.5 million behind promoting the citrusy summer brew during the month of May.
Like the other brands we looked at, Blue Moon advertised mainly on social media in the lead-up to Memorial Day, with 39 percent on Facebook and 73 percent overall. However, Blue Moon didn’t dabble in Snapchat or TikTok ads at all. This might have a lot to do with Blue Moon’s target demographic, which is mainly older millennials and GenXers.
Over the holiday weekend, Blue Moon took the opposite approach of Frito-Lay, pulling back on YouTube and OTT and focusing on Facebook and Instagram instead.
What’s interesting is that Pathmatics Explorer picked up only 10 unique Facebook creatives for Blue Moon during the month of May. One creative features people playing cornhole in the backyard. A player sets his beer in the grass, and reaches down to grab it just in time to prevent it from getting knocked over by a beanbag. The ad is a clip from a 15-second spot that has been running on OTT and YouTube since the end of March. Blue Moon promotes it every weekend, with Memorial Day weekend receiving the largest amount of spend.
Turning Up the Heat
Memorial Day may be over, but barbecue season is just getting started. So far, these three food and beverage brands are mostly sticking to tried-and-true social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to reach consumers, but we are starting to see some investments in TikTok and Snapchat. We’ll keep our eyes open to see how advertisers' channel and messaging strategies evolve as summer heats up.
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After she earned her BS in Business Administration and Marketing, Pam spent time in the non-profit industry developing skills in digital marketing and creating digital content for two years. She then made the transition to content marketing for San Francisco start ups.