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How Cinnabon Rolls

September 18, 2014, 1:02 p.m.
by Katie Lansford.

Cinnabon, the brand known for the world’s best cinnamon roll, is the new example for the dismal future of traditional advertising. Don’t believe it? Just wait.

The dessert powerhouse reached $1 billion in retail sales last year with a meager advertising budget of $33,000. By relying heavily on social media, public relations and word of mouth, Cinnabon increased its brand awareness with very little use for advertising. With more than 1 million Facebook likes, 63,729 Twitter followers and 20,765 Instagram followers, it clearly knows how to keep conversations going.

Cinnabon entertains consumers by posting mouth-watering pictures of freshly baked goods coupled with catchy song lyrics or puns. The brand tweets multiple times a day, replying to almost everyone and even occasionally reaching out to celebrities, like One Direction’s Niall Horan.


The death of traditional advertising
Cinnabon’s use of social media is not unique; its lack of advertising is. Other food brands still dedicate large portions of their budgets to traditional advertising while also maintaining social media accounts. These brands should look to Cinnabon as a model on how to save time and money. Traditional advertising is one-way communication; what Cinnabon does is engage in conversation. With the increasing participation in social media, the expectation for interaction is only growing. Print ads and commercials can’t provide that. If a brand makes a post on Facebook and the consumer doesn’t like it, they can immediately let the brand know; with a television commercial, that’s not possible.

Where is this all headed?
By keeping its brand image relevant and on the mind of today’s consumer, Cinnabon has set the stage for a successful brand expansion. Typically known for the warm and gooey treat found in malls and airports, the Cinnabon name can now be seen on close to 70 licensed products. Today, you can purchase Cinnabon scented Air Wick air freshener, Cinnabon desserts from Taco Bell, Cinnabon- flavored vodka and various packaged foods.

Cinnabon President Kat Cole has told Forbes and other publications that her company is “becoming one of the world’s greatest food brands” and that it “eventually … will end up in the bucket with brands like Oreo and Hershey.”

If this is true, other brands should watch Cinnabon and act to strongly cut back on traditional advertising. It might be a tough change and more than a little risky, but necessary to keep up with the consumers’ insatiable appetite and need for real-time interaction.


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