Why Solo Stove and Snoop Dogg Brand Partnership Backfired


Less than two months ago, Solo Stove embarked on what was widely heralded as a genius marketing campaign.

The brand partnered with legendary rapper Snoop Dogg to use his not-so-secret affinity with cannabis to trick the world into thinking he’d given up “smoke,” only to reveal that he was partnering with Solo Stove to promote their smokeless fire pits.

A masterpiece in viral marketing, people said. Ad Age listed it at #18 on its Top 40 Ads of 2023.

Solo Stove was chuffed with it too. Then CEO, John Merris, said on his LinkedIn at the time, “this one will go down as one of the best. Snoop Dogg is incredible to work with and we found the perfect collaboration between two brands.”

And yet, as of Jan. 15, John Merris is out of a job. According to Solo Stove interim CFO Andrea Tarbox, the campaign “raised brand awareness” but “did not lead to the sales lift that [they] had planned.”

Was this a case of a poorly spent marketing budget? Or unrealistic ROI expectations?

A pivot in strategy

Let’s look a bit closer at Solo Brands. The company grew steadily through the Covid-19 pandemic, likely a result of a great product fit for all of us stuck at home. But since then, the brand has managed to keep that revenue stable, with net sales of $329.5 million for the last 9 months of 2023, up 2.8% for the same period in 2022. Not just a smokeless flash in the pan.

Until recently, Solo Stove had been predominantly a direct-response focused business, investing in social media and other measurable marketing channels.

So this Snoop Dogg campaign was a huge leap.

Don’t run an awareness campaign and judge it on sales

Too many times we see brands tick every box when it comes to what they’re looking for in terms of ROI for a campaign. Newsflash: you cannot have it all.

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