Morning Brew - ☕️ Spice Up Your Life

Snacks are getting spicy.
Morning Brew September 01, 2021

Marketing Brew


Good afternoon. Happy Wednesday. It’s raining here in New York, which means it is a fine day to get under a thick blanket, dim the lights, make some popcorn, and hunt for awkwardly inserted product placement.

In today’s edition: 

  • Snacks turn spicy
  • Dating apps break into video
  • TikTok’s invite-only API

—Minda Smiley, Phoebe Bain, Zaid Shoorbajee


I want some hot stuff

can of Blue Diamond Ghost Pepper almonds

Blue Diamond

You probably don’t want your mid-afternoon almonds to taste like the hottest pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper. But if you do, you can buy ’em, thanks to Blue Diamond’s line of spicy almonds released in April.

Blue Diamond is one of many brands over the past couple of years to have taken its signature product and made it spicy. In April, Goldfish worked with Frank’s RedHot to create a spicy version of its cracker, while McCormick turned its classic Old Bay seasoning into hot sauce in 2020.

  • Mountain Dew took the trend to absurd new heights last week, teaming up with Cheetos (both are owned by PepsiCo) to create a Flamin’ Hot limited edition of its soda. 
  • PepsiCo’s been trying to capitalize on the success of the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto for quite some time—see: Flamin' Hot Rold Gold, Ruffles, and Smartfood. And Flamin’ Hot Cheetos ice cream

Why is it spicy

Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, global food analyst at market research firm Mintel, told Marketing Brew that people are becoming more intrigued by spicy flavors, spurring brands to react accordingly. “A few years back, we saw increased interest in different kinds of peppers, such as ghost pepper and the super-spicy Carolina Reaper,” she explained. 

Sad stat of the day: A Mintel survey conducted in January found that 42% of US consumers agree that trying new snack flavors “adds some excitement” to their daily routines. 

  • “These sorts of limited-edition spicy products were already happening before the pandemic, but I think that the monotony of day-to-day life during the pandemic could be creating a need for something to break out of what may be becoming a flavor rut,” Bartelme told us, adding that, for brands, “these kinds of collaborations, or line extensions, may represent a less risky route toward innovation right now.”

Blast from the past: Spice-laden snacks could also stem from nostalgia marketing, which—as Ad Age recently noted—is popular right now. Brendan Shaughnessy, strategy director at cultural consultancy sparks & honey, said people have been gravitating toward “nostalgia and comfort foods” over the past 18 months. He pointed to the fact that Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were invented in 1989, so “there’s a lot of nostalgia with them as a snack food.” 

That’s hot

Shaughnessy said social platforms are likely driving the trend as well. Case in point: The hashtag “#hotsaucechallenge” on TikTok has 95.9 millon views. 

“Spicy foods, especially Cheetos or Takis, lend themselves really well to creator culture,” he explained. “Looking at a TikTok challenge, or watching someone make something on YouTube, feels very communal and participative, even if we’re just watching them experience it. If we think about things like quarantine or our inability to travel to different places, [social media] feels like a really natural place for spicy foods to continue to be experimented with in a way that feels a little bit more participative.”—MS



Dating apps break into video, audio

Image of Bumble's Night In feature


If you did that whole Hot Vaxx Summer thing, you might have noticed a few changes in your dating app swiping routine. 

  • Tinder is now letting users add videos to their dating profiles.
  • Bumble recently created “Night In,” a trivia game that lets users play with others via video, and “could introduce things like video to users’ profiles,” per CNBC. 

TL;DR: The apps are adding more audio and video features for singles. 

We couldn’t help but wonder…to what extent do marketers, like those at Babe Wine (which partnered with Bumble for a co-branded campaign last year) or those running ads on Tinder, see opportunities within these new audio and video formats?

Babe Wine GM Chelsea Phillips: “Video and audio capabilities expand the possibilities for storytelling, which, if done well, can make everything feel less like an ad. Although we don’t have immediate plans to execute a campaign using these features, it is something we’ll be thinking about.”

Greg James, Havas Media Group global CSO: “Well-executed video and audio expansion by these apps creates all kinds of deeper engagement opportunities for advertisers. The goal of the apps is for higher interaction, so we might see advertisers contribute in new ways through new formats here,” he said, explaining that things like product integration or endorsements “could all expand opportunities for advertisers beyond more interruptive ‘traditional’ ad formats we’ve seen in the past [on] these apps which are really mostly just short form display ads.”  

+1: Ambika Pai, CSO of Mekanism, told us these features might also make it easier to help dating apps differentiate and market themselves. “When working with a relatively commoditized category (one writer coined the 2010s the ‘supermarket of dating’ era), there’s a constant push and pull between brand messaging and product messaging. With the integration of videos, marketers can start introducing true brand messaging back into the platform,” Pai said.—PB



Don’t Swipe Right on the Wrong Hire


At some point or another, we’ve all known a new hire whose greatest skill turned out to be burning popcorn in the break room. 

Bringing on the right people to help grow your budding biz is tough. All the frustrating back-and-forth, all the second-guessing, all the wanting for something better. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


BELAY has more than a decade of experience successfully matching thousands of clients with US-based virtual assistants, bookkeepers, social media strategists, and website specialists. 

They make managing the whole hiring process quick and easy, so you can get back to driving your business forward. It’s the full-service, white-glove staffing experience you thought only existed in the movies.

Let BELAY be your matchmaker and help you hire the one.


New API just dropped

TikTok on mobile phone

TikTok is letting a select group of influencer agencies pop the hood on its main influencer marketing tool. 

The company recently started a soft rollout of an API for TikTok Creator Marketplace, which lets brands search for influencers who might be a good fit for their campaigns. TikTok told Marketing Brew that it’s initially allowing four influencer marketing companies to access the API: Influential, Capitv8, Whalar, and INCA. 

What it means: These companies will have access to data and metrics that TikTok generates from creator content. That includes first-party data about audience demographics and the performance of creator videos. The agencies can funnel that information to their own clients, helping brands make smarter decisions on who to partner with for influencer marketing campaigns. 

  • Captiv8 CEO and co-founder Krishna Subramanian told us that the company used the API to help a retailer client debut its TikTok channel with a campaign focused on “empowerment, inclusivity, self-expression, and individuality.”
  • “Without official integrations, brands are left scrambling and forced to estimate campaign results and surface-level influencer insights,” Subramanian said, adding that the API can let clients “justify their channel investments and ensure they’re partnering with the right creators to reach their target audiences.”

TikTok itself hasn’t made any official announcements about the Creator Marketplace API. A spokesperson said it’s in an “​​early pilot phase” and that TikTok will expand beyond the initial four partners “in the coming months.”

Zoom out: TikTok introduced its Creator Marketplace in 2019 essentially as a way for brands to shop for influencers. TikTok declined to share specifics regarding how creators can qualify because it’s in beta, but said that creators can be invited at the platform’s discretion if they meet eligibility requirements that include “age, followers, video content, and engagement.”—ZS



  • Amazon is breaking into live audio.
  • The Pearl Milling Company released its first campaign after changing its name from Aunt Jemima.
  • LinkedIn is killing its Stories feature a month after Twitter axed Fleets .
  • P&G has increased the production of toilet paper as Americans begin hoarding again.
  • Bonnaroo is canceled because of heavy rain.


Morning Consult

Outdated data? Not good, ever. But it’s especially not good if you need to understand a consumer’s changing financial and economic circumstances. Morning Consult Economic Intelligence can give your biz the complete picture of the economic landscape through deep demographics and predictive metrics. Get all the data on everything Morning Consult knows about data by speaking to a Specialist today.


French press

Francis Scialabba

There are a lot of bad marketing tips out there. These aren’t those.

A break: Why a (mandated) week off can save employees from burnout.

The ’Gram: While definitely not a TikTok rip off, here are some tips for making the best Instagram Reels ads.

Growth: Not sure how to build an audience on Pinterest? This guide from the platform is a good place to start. 

Tips for text: Thousands of top Shopify-powered brands use Attentive for personalized text messaging that drives shopper engagement, big results, and billions in revenue. Start building a winning SMS strategy with Attentive’s Complete SMS Marketing Guide for Shopify Brands.*

*This is sponsored advertising content


Research: Spotify is the most trusted platform for ads, followed by Google and Amazon, according to a new Kantar Media study.

Quote: “We, tomorrow’s leaders, call on all agencies, from the holding companies to the independent shops, to stop working with fossil fuel clients. This means oil giants as well as the alphabet soup of trade associations and front groups,” writes the group Clean Creatives, which has penned an open letter to advertising leaders about taking climate change seriously.

Read: Eater’s review of the Margaritaville Resort in Times Square. “We ate everything, but decided it all tasted lightly of sunscreen,” wrote Jaya Saxena. 


Catch up on a few Marketing Brew stories you might have missed.


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Written by Minda Smiley, Phoebe Bain, and Zaid Shoorbajee

Illustrations & graphics by Francis Scialabba

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