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Dunked in Love

Dunked in Love: Striking a Fun Note with Branded Content

Culver’s Pretzel Bites made their mark the moment they appeared as a limited-time menu item, quickly becoming a fan favorite. Beyond the impressive year-over-year sales increases, there was also a constant outpouring of love for these crispy, salty, dunk-able snacks whenever they were on the menu, as well as when they weren’t.

So, it wasn’t all that surprising when Culver’s decided to give the people what they wanted — and make Pretzel Bites a permanent menu item.

While the decision to bring the bites was a no-brainer, figuring out how to make the announcement required a great deal of consideration and creativity. For that, they engaged our agency’s support.

The Challenge: Choreographing a Promotional Comeback

Building awareness around a new menu item is always a heavy lift because it requires capturing the attention of the target, piquing their curiosity and getting them to bite.

But this particular initiative required a different type of lift: Fans already knew and loved Pretzel Bites, and they always looked forward to their limited-time appearance on the menu. So rather than introducing this bite-sized snack, the challenge was how to cultivate a deeper devotion to the bites while announcing that they now had a forever home on the Culver’s menu.

The options of what to do were vast — but during the exploration phase, one word stood out as the biggest source of inspiration for the team: fun. Because these these bites are so fun to dunk in Wisconsin cheese and devour (especially when sharing with friends), whatever form the announcement took, it needed to be fun.

Ultimately, we decided the best way to share the comeback story of this beloved snack was to do something new: a music video that would live on YouTube. What tipped the scales toward this fresh tactic was the way guests talked about these tasty morsels online: the passion that came through in their comments and messages sounded a lot like the lyrics of a love song. And that’s how Dunked in Love bopped to the top of the list.

In the style of a ’80s power ballad, the Dunked in Love music video features original music and lyrics highlighting what fans love about Pretzel Bites, including some truly cheesy shots that tempt viewers to give them a dunk. For those who enjoy a singalong, the video’s subtitle setup features a bouncing Pretzel Bite that guides them from verse to verse.

As the video was coming together, our team worked on developing complementary tactics that would drive awareness, enthusiasm, and engagement among the target audience. Driven by our agency’s Proven-Possible Model, we were able to maximize the reach and impact of the video through a mix of initiatives, among them:

  • Social ads on Facebook and Instagram driving video views
  • An email to Culver’s subscriber list to ensure our most dedicated guests received the news
  • Instagram filters that allowed fans to put themselves into the ambiance of the classic ’80s rock ballad video
  • Streaming audio ads to reach guests already in a music-focused zone
  • Collaborations with influencers who sang about the glory of Pretzel Bites on TikTok, building awareness among new audiences in an entertaining way

The Results: Bite-Sized Snacks, Big Impact

Over a nine-week period, Dunked in Love netted nearly 9.4 million impressions across our suite of promotional efforts and was lauded by the marketing industry in an article in AdWeek.

There were also countless comments and expressions of joy from fans excited to be able to score Pretzel Bites year-round, among the most notable:

@marykatelichty: April 16: @culvers thanks for bringing my pretzel bites back. Now I can have summer picnics with my favorite food

three Facebook comments: 1) jaytube003: Going to be #1 in the pop charts. 2) monykauh: haha omg! Where can I find this shirt?! My husband seriously tells me to buy your pretzel bites eveeerytime I leave the house! His new theme song. 3) amerciasdairyland: This song is going to be in our head all day

 

America's Dairyland: Wait but WHY is it so catchyMrTooter007: This is so cheesy....literally! ;) Nice job Culvers, very funny!

 

This branded content piece was a fun, immersive way for Culver’s guests to celebrate the return of a beloved seasonal menu item — this time for good. If you’re interested in discovering what an in-depth and interactive content piece could look like for your brand, email Ted Jun at tjun@heibing.com to set up a call.