Bomb Pop, the frozen ice treat shaped like a rocket, has been driving some of the best sales and awareness results for the nearly 70-year-old brand by reallocating its media spend over the past year to prioritize social media over traditional advertising while also integrating a gaming strategy.
By tuning into media platforms like TikTok, Snapchat and Roblox, the brand is better able to embrace the culture and trends relevant to its target tween audience, helping deliver a 26% year-over-year increase in sales and a 10.5% increase in brand awareness.
Throughout, converting digital engagement into purchases has been a priority. This includes a social media activation with actor Gavin Casalegno of Amazon Prime’s “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and artist Andrey Azizov to sell Bomb Pop-inspired products, including cameras, coolers, t-shirts, towels and a volleyball, through a virtual pop-up store. Access to the product line was granted by scanning the product with a Bomb Pop Snapchat Lens.
“Tweens’ taste and interests are continually evolving, so we have adopted a strategy of availability, connection and innovation,” said Santhi Ramesh, chief commercial officer for Bomb Pop parent Wells Enterprises. “We want to be available in places where they are naturally going. We want to connect with them in ways that are appealing, and we want them to be able to express themselves and be free to be who they are.”
Marketing a summer seasonal product such as a frozen treat has its challenges. The pressure is on to make an entire year’s worth of goals in a scant three months. And when the target market is tweens, who are notoriously fickle and not necessarily repeat customers year after year, marketers have to work extra hard to stay nimble. For Bomb Pop, this has included taking advantage of unique media opportunities that don’t feel like advertising.
In July 2022, the brand launched a first-of-its-kind media buy on TikTok that combined a branded mission, hashtag challenge and branded effect competition, resulting in the brand’s best July 4th sales ever.
The brand quickly followed this with an activation through Roblox that gave it a presence within the Restaurant Tycoon 2 game. In partnership with Moonrock Labs and Gale, the brand brought its signature three-color look to various products within gameplay and made the treats a sellable product in the game. Over the three-week campaign, players “sold” more than 48 million Bomb Pops, more than doubling the brand’s 20 million virtual sales goal.
“We know that tweens are very into gaming, but building a game [from scratch] is extremely labor intensive, and we wanted to be sure we were adding value,” said Lindsey Brand, creative director at Gale. “With our partnership with Moonrock Labs and Roblox we were able to integrate Bomb Pop into a game they were already playing in an authentic way. It wasn’t advertising to them, and it sold more Bomb Pops.”
Some of these recent successes are born out of the brand’s and agency’s deep understanding of its tween target, including paying close attention to what they are liking and generating on social media.
“We do our research and we are constantly analyzing their interests,” Ramesh said. “When we observe social media content, we know what they are posting and reacting to, and that gives us clues about what their passion points are.”
Given the sensitivities around marketing to children, Ramesh and Brand also ensure that any information collected is anonymized and that the content they create and distribute is used responsibly.
“We are not pushing content, but we are making it available to them,” Ramesh said.
Just as crucially, the agency and brand benefit from having good relationships with digital platforms so they can understand and capitalize on new tools as they are developed.
“For all of the activations, we work with the platforms as true partnerships,” Brand said. “We want to make sure it works for the platform, just as much as it works for our audiences.”
Though the calendar may be heading into the colder months, the brand has no plans to slow down. Through the winter, Bomb Pop will focus on the warmer regions of the United States with a message of recapturing a “summer feeling” for a snack.
“We have identified where summer is year-round,” Ramesh said. “I don’t want to target Chicago, but I want to target the Texases and the Floridas of the world. Bomb Pop sells four times the national average in those areas, even in December, so why would we limit the marketing to the end of September?”