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King’s Hawaiian Pins Its Hopes on a New Marketing Recipe

King’s Hawaiian embraces a marketing strategy that reflects the “Aloha Spirit” of its 60-year heritage. That spirit—‘an expression of caring and sharing that is an essential part of island culture,’ according to its site—is central to how it executes that marketing strategy. The Hawaii-based maker of original recipe Hawaiian foods aims to not only raise awareness among consumers, but most important, deepen engagement with them. So, its marketing team pinpointed a new way to greet customers: on Pinterest via creative content that includes innovative recipe “hacks” and modifications.

“If you have the right content and the right targets, you can get strong results marketing through Pinterest,” says Chad Donvito, brand general manager at King’s Hawaiian. “When someone wants to find something unique and creative, they tend to go to Pinterest.” Donvito reports that Pinterest has been more than twice as cost-efficient as any of the other social media platforms his company uses for marketing.

Pinterest marketing is a relatively new opportunity. The social network recently identified eight marketing developer partners to build tools to help businesses optimize and scale their marketing on Pinterest. “We’re in the early days of marketers using Pinterest as an ad platform, but its media solutions have evolved extremely quickly and we see Pinterest delivering some impressive direct-response results,” says Sean O’Neal, the president of marketing technology company Adaptly, one of the eight partners. “Because of its unique attributes in terms of photos and the way folks use it, marketers have to think in a different way about how to leverage it.”

Recipe hacks = tasty content

Donvito says that marketing on Pinterest is attractive to King’s Hawaiian for two reasons. “First,” he explains, “the consumers who use Pinterest look a lot like our consumers: they’re creative, adventurous, and like to explore.” Second, Pinterest’s display platform seemed like a great match for the brand’s content marketing, which focuses on unique recipes curated from leading chefs and food bloggers throughout the country.

These recipes appeal to consumers’ creative side. One recipe, for example, shows consumers how to make a quick and easy party dish using a King’s Hawaiian product: Take a 12-pack of its Original Sweet Rolls and slice the sheet of rolls, which are connected in the package, in half; peel back the top “flap” and slather the bottom half with cheese and butter; throw it in the oven; and then disconnect the individual cheese melts after 10 minutes of baking. “It sounds easy to do,” Donvito acknowledges, “but it’s the type of time-saving, creative approach that consumers constantly tell us is a really great piece of guidance.”

Just posting recipes is a tasty engagement tool, but marketers at King’s Hawaiian were hungry for more interaction. So they enlisted Adaptly to help them engage with Pinterest users.

The result was a Pinterest search campaign, which launched in March. The goal was to get as many Pinners as possible to engage with the dozen King’s Hawaiian recipes that were posted. Adaptly developed a campaign around specific and general targeting terms, which helped the brand to capture cooks who search for specific recipes and those who plan meals and events. This targeting helped King’s Hawaiian connect with people looking for recipes and to drive clicks offsite as well as repins (sort of a retweet, in which a Pinner shares an image, one with a recipe in this case, that another Pinner has already shared).

The approach enables King’s Hawaiian to leverage its existing recipe content to develop campaign-targeting terms; drive offsite clicks and repins by targeting current and expected future pin habits; and test various targeting terms (e.g., broader versus specific language) to use in future marketing efforts.

Pinning’s unparalleled efficiency

Using tools from Adaptly, Donvito says, King’s Hawaiian was able “to target the right consumer when they were looking for relevant recipe ideas.” And Adaptly continues to help King’s refine and adjust its targeting.

The initiative was successful, Donvito emphasizes. Pinterest users clicked through to King’s Hawaiian at a high rate and they continue to repin the recipes, which helps increase, or sustain, longer-term engagement. Donvito reports that the campaign has so far delivered the following results:

  • Efficiency: The Pinterest campaign has been two to four times more efficient for King’s Hawaiian than the other social advertising platforms it uses.
  • Earned media: King’s Hawaiian received 6.7 million earned media impressions on Pinterest from March through June.
  • Engagement: Overall, the King’s Hawaiian recipes have delivered 302% more repins than clicks, which has led to the significant amount of earned media.

Pinterest users are “continuing to do things that help push that longer-term engagement for us like repinning, which is unique,” Donvito adds. “That’s what we really like about the platform. Our content can live well beyond a day or two.… We continue to see these repins weeks and months after we posted our content.”

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