A Tactic Is Not a Strategy, and Other Lessons from the Solo Stove Debacle

| By Eric Gunzenhauser

I’ve read quite a few articles already on the Solo Stove Smokeless Snoop Dogg ad campaign (you likely have as well). Most marketing and advertising folks blame this or that depending on their areas of expertise.

Some might suggest it was a case of the CEO not managing leadership expectations. Others say leadership acted too soon, with the success of the ad and its resulting viral buzz yet to be played out in terms of sales.

Chess piece, strategy

But I’m here to tell you, there’s plenty of shade to be thrown around.

Yes, the ad succeeded in driving awareness and impressions for new audiences. But launching an awareness tactic in November for a product with a long sales cycle and expecting to see a boost in Q4 sales is not a sound marketing decision.

How could this happen? As our illustrious copywriter emeritus, Randy Jones, put it: “The failure of this campaign is a great example of a clever idea leading the way with no strategy behind it.”

Well said. I’d go one further and say that it reflects a common mistake among some marketers who think the clever idea IS the strategy. In this case, it seems the decision makers fell in love with the “Snoop going smokeless” ad tactic and forgot the rest. They failed to define how they intended to measure the tactic’s success in relation to the company’s business objectives for Q4 and beyond. If they had, the lack of a strategy would have been apparent.

Okay, so how does THAT happen? When business and marketing objectives are misaligned, creating a no-win scenario for everyone involved. Despite all the attention, a pure awareness tactic will, at best, take time (along with more touch points and incentives) to translate into sales.

Now, I’d like to believe that at some point questions about a more built-out strategy were raised. And maybe they were. Maybe they intended to flesh out a more complete campaign that accelerated the sales cycle, leveraging the impressions they anticipated gaining. And maybe the budget for that went up in smoke (see what I did there?) once they realized how much Snoop had to get paid. Maybe it was supposed to run in September or October, instead of November, to give them time to play out other elements for Q4.

But who knows?

The point is, they went for it anyway, and got exactly what they should have expected.

Are you worried that your company’s marketing planning has bypassed strategy and gone straight to tactics? Our team can help you take a step back to maximize impact. 


Leave a Reply