A Guide to Snackable, Stackable Content

Marketers nowadays need to be thinking bit-sized. While one big Superbowl commercial could be a worthwhile spend twenty or thirty years ago, today advertisers know that there are innumerable places to be influencing customers (thanks to the internet's infinite inventory and social media streams that update constantly) and a big, one-time spend simply won't cut it.

That's where the idea of "snackable" and "stackable" content comes in. The single "Where's the Beef?" slogan simply doesn't pack the same punch it once did, when all of the country sat down to consume primetime TV--and commercials. Instead, leaders in digital marketing and digital content know they need to thinking about campaigns that result in positive buzz, and that can crawl into the zeitgeist's consciousness. Here's what we mean:

Old Navy

Old Navy's comeback in the past few years truly qualifies as remarkable. And it's not like their product changed all that much--you still visit the store for cute, back-to-school outfits or summery basics (flip flops, anyone?). So, why are fashionistas suddenly recommending the brand as the cool, budget-friendly find come spring wardrobe time? Good, stackable marketing.

For starters, Old Navy hired influencers to make them relevant again. Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks and the Portlandia duo, Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, to name a handful, helped not only create hilarious commercials for the brand, but also helped build their YouTube channel to nearly 50,000 subscribers.  

The takeaway: Influencer campaigns have changed since the era of the corporate celebrity spokesperson. You can go for big names (though Old Navy also looped lesser-known YouTubers like Miranda Sings into their videos), but keep content short and serial. Five, 15-second YouTube videos with Amy Poehler are better for today's audiences than one, three-minute long endorsement.

Old Spice

Rather than start with influencers, Old Spice created one. Geico and Dos Equis followed similar paths. They created a campaign they believed in, created lots of pieces of content that played with the theme, and stuck with it. Terry Crews and Isaiah Mustafa, minor celebrities prior to the Old Spice commercials they made famous, arguably took off following the major online buzz around their performances in the ads.

The ads were particularly popular, if you remember, on Reddit--a difficult channel to get right. Reddit can see through misguided or inauthentic attempts to do what the kids are doing. Instead, Old Spice made intelligent choices that millennials admire like casting non-white leading men, hiring cult favorites Tim & Eric to direct some of the pieces, and injecting the scripts with irreverent humor.

The takeaway: A few things. Create content that is genuinely good... nothing that's too kitschy or blatantly trying to be "hip." To do this properly, hire talent that knows your audience and is already resonating with those people. And once you create your content, stand by it. It may take a few tries to get it to "stick," but good stackable content means that once it does "stick," folks will go back in time to find more.


Every marketer has heard about the "dunk in the dark" moment Oreo had on social. The almost instant Oreo tweet during the 2013 Superbowl is practically legendary. Without any possible way of knowing about the power outage ahead of time, the company was able to whip up a graphic and tweet it out resulting in an instantly viral moment. 

Oreo stackable content

But what sometimes gets lost in the conversation is the context for this success. Oreo had been devoting tremendous time and energy to understanding how social media posts turn into noteworthy advertising. Three years later, a visit to Oreo's Twitter feed shows that they remain dedicated to their colorful, sharable graphics. They get it and they're in it for the long haul.

The takeaway: Be timely... and be ready to be timely. It was impossible for Oreo to predict this snafu ahead of time, but clearly their team was on-call to produce a relevant piece of content. They knew that the Superbowl was an event they should touch on, that viewers were at the ready and primed to receive ad messaging, and that the more clever their commentary, the better. You might not know what your "moment" would be, but perhaps keep templates ready and prepare to press "go" on short notice. Snackable content means having pithy corporate comments ready quickly.

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