John Merris thought he had a brilliant idea: Snoop Dogg shilling for Solo Brands' smokeless fire pit. As the company CEO he reached out to Snoop's brand manager with the idea. "We think it'd be really fun if we got Snoop to endorse it and say he went smokeless," Merris pitched Nick Adler.
Snoop liked the Solo Stove idea and said it was up to his attorneys, who appoved the campaign. On Nov. 16, Snoop announced to the world via social media he was "giving up smoke." For four days, people wondered if if was a scam, an honest admission of harm caused by inhaling too many blunts or something in between. It turned out to be the former. On Nov. 20, Snoop admitted the ruse, posting, "Solo Smoke fix fire – they take out the smoke" and scowling in the TV ad.
The stunt backfired, so to speak. Merris has been removed from Solo Stove as president and CEO afer five years steering the company. Interim CFO Andrea Tarbox’s stated:
“While our unique marketing campaigns raised brand awareness of Solo Stove to an expanded and new audience of consumers, it did not lead to the sales lift that we had planned, which, combined with the increased marketing investments, negatively impacted our EBITDA. We believe there is a significant opportunity for us to build awareness and that these new campaigns will expand our reach and benefit our brands over the long term.”
It's unclear how much Snopp Dogg was paid for his involvement in the campaign.
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Adler had previously told Los Angeles magazine:
"My initial reaction was this is not gonna work. It's a big ask. Even if we make this statement, he may smoke, like, 15 minutes after posting it. He didn't make the promise at that point that he was actually going to refrain from smoking for four days on Instagram. Part of the reason I think this thing was such a success was that simple post of Snoop with that very serious, somber look with the prayer hands and the copy, which was so perfect. Writing 'Respect my privacy' really hit a nerve. In a day when there was a lot of heavy news in the world, this story was both inspiring and it got a lot of people scared. Like, Snoop's the legend. He can't let us down and quit smoking. So there were many mixed emotions around it."
Asked by Shirley Halperin, "if there was any concern that people would feel hoodwinked?" Adler replied:
"There was a moment when we were planning the actual reveal and I got a little nervous. We don't want people to think we duped them. This is a celebration of fun. So Snoop thanked everybody for the encouragement and thankfully the response was great. People were throwing words around like 'genius' so it felt amazing."
While Ad Age gave the campaign a No. 18 ranking for 2023, it didn't score with consumers and apparently turned off Snoop's core stoner audience.