In a consumer ecosystem that increasingly favors wellness, making nutritious food choices should be as effortless as possible, according to Kind Snacks Global CMO Kelly Solomon. That’s why the consumer packaged goods brand is doubling down on pairing its simple ingredients with a marketing strategy that’s just as digestible.
To communicate the rather undecorated message, Kind has a slew of advertising efforts slated for the year meant to signal a re-commitment to simplicity and bring its core ingredient — whole almonds — center stage. Key to the push is a new TV commercial, which was unveiled Feb. 27 on linear channels and not only represents the first from the company in over a year, but also the first under Solomon’s guidance. The company has also planned a series of immersive activations throughout the year meant to showcase simple nutrition while promoting its core value, kindness.
“We want to make nutrition easy to understand whether you're an older consumer and you just don't understand what it is that you need to be healthy or younger consumers that honestly have the same questions,” Solomon said.
Mars Inc. fully acquired Kind North America in late 2020, several years after taking a minority stake in the healthy snacking company.
The commercial, titled “I See Almonds,” is scripted true to its name. The concept imitates man-on-the-street interviews, with a host challenging interviewees to identify one ingredient in Kind’s Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt bar to win a prize. One caught-off-guard respondent is quick to choose almonds as the answer, seemingly unaware that a massive billboard directly behind the person is streaming a video of almonds being drizzled with chocolate.
The creative, which debuted on YouTube and Hulu Feb. 13, includes a 15-second and 30-second version and was created with Energy BBDO. When crafting the concept, being outright was a priority, Solomon said.
“We wanted to be super laser-focused — in 15 seconds, you really don’t have time to tell a complicated story,” she said.
Such a no-frills mindset was also an informed decision based on less successful executions of the past, the exec continued. Kind’s last commercial, titled “Choose to Be Kind to Your Body,” first aired in 2020 and was meant to nod to the positive outcomes that could result from choosing Kind, like the ability to change the world or, perhaps more doable, be kind to others. However, in pursuit of inspiration, the brand’s message struggled to resonate.
“You’ll watch it three times and be like ‘What’s going on here,’ Solomon said. “Sometimes you’re too close to it — you fall in love with it — and then someone who has never seen it comes in and it doesn't make sense to them.”
The timing for its rollout — mid-February — was intentional. The period just misses the “new year, new me” hype and, hopefully, catches people at a point where they are looking to make more realistic shifts in their New Year goals, like opting for healthier snacks, Solomon said. More broadly, consumers these days care more about wellness than they did before. According to a McKinsey study, approximately 50% of U.S. consumers report wellness as a top priority in their day-to-day lives, up from 42% in 2020.
“We do social listening, we look at search engines and we understand what consumers are interested in and what questions they have — consumers absolutely want to know what they’re putting in their body.”
Nutrition goes full glam
With upped stakes for a successful execution, Solomon feels confident in her ability to lead the snack brand’s marketing strategy, even despite having a less conventional background. Ahead of being named Kind’s CMO last year, the exec spent 15 years combined with makeup giants L'Oréal and Estee Lauder, most recently serving as senior vice president of consumer marketing for MAC Cosmetics. Still, the similarities between food and beauty are clear, she said.
“There’s huge echoes of the beauty industry in the food industry,” Solomon said. “Beauty is very personal — it’s very much customized to your body, as is nutrition.”
Among the differences, she added, is that marketing in the beauty industry often revolves around elevating specific products. However, at Kind, the focus is less about the product and more about bringing the brand to life. As such, Solomon and the team have made it a priority to bring Kind’s mission of promoting simple nutrition and kindness to the spotlight.
One method the brand uses to communicate its message is through immersion, which often takes the form of pop-up events, she said. Most recently, the brand partnered with “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi to create Padma’s Kind Kitchen, a speakeasy-style pop-up restaurant that will be open to the public from Feb. 28 to March 1 at Chelsea Market in New York City. To enter, consumers will have to complete a small act of kindness, which will grant them access to a slew of healthy menu items. Additional events slated for this year are planned for Earth Day and back-to-school, among others.
Beyond out-of-home activations, Solomon also hopes to continue shaping Kind’s social media strategy around its mission, particularly on TikTok and Instagram, noting that purpose-driven content has performed well for the brand. Joining the increasing number of brands who are enlisting influencers for such efforts, Kind has partnered with chefs, dietitians and others who can speak to the brand’s nutritional value.
More timely, the brand also struck a partnership around Super Bowl LVII with Donna Kelce, mother to Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and Philadelphia Eagles’ Jason Kelce — who faced off during the game — to share a pre-game speech with the duo on social media that ended with a reminder that “kindness always wins.”
Beyond evolving the brand’s social media presence, Solomon is quick to note that Kind’s brand strategy is already sound, noting that carrying the responsibilities of chief marketer is less about coming in to shake things up and more about strengthening a solid foundation.
“The marketing strategy before I got here was very much how do we bring our brand purpose and mission to life, how do we let the consumer know what we’re here to do, and it’s very much what we’re still focused on,” she said.