Little Debbie: Share-a-Thon

The cupcake that conquered the category

Everybody has a dream. Some people dream about someday being #1. Some people dream about staying #1.

And some people dream about knocking off #1.

For almost 90 years, the #1 cupcake in America was made by, well, let’s just say it rhymes with “most-ess.” Now, 90 years is a long time to be #1. Who else has been #1 that long? The Yankees? The Beatles? The automobile?

When we told people what we wanted to do, everyone said we were nuts. “You’ll never do it.” “You can’t beat #1.” “Not gonna happen.”

But sometimes you just gotta go with your gut. And some smart investigation.


We discovered during our research that the cupcake isn’t just a sweet, delicious, portable – and did we mention delicious? – treat. It’s also a way for friends and family to come together. Indeed, sharing the snack made moments between friends more fun (and don’t forget delicious), and turned every experience into an experience so good you couldn’t help but share it.

Which was great for two very important reasons.

First, because it was true (and call us crazy, but we still think “true” is important).

And second, because it meant that the cupcake, inherently about sharing and happiness, was the perfect vehicle for bringing the Little Debbie positioning – Unwrap A Smile – to life.

In other words, every time we sold a cupcake, we also sold Little Debbie.

So we created a series of TV commercials that delivered funny, memorable and diverse moments that a Little Debbie cupcake could make better.

But TV is distinctly “one-way,” and our idea – the idea of sharing – is fundamentally two-way. So we shared it.

We launched “The Little Debbie Share-a-Thon Tour” with Smart Cars redesigned to look like Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes heading to cities all across the country. We had in-store POP, sampling events, street teams and more. We got local TV coverage and huge crowds. And we invited fans to enter the Share-a-Thon giveaway for the chance to win GPS systems, a year’s supply of cupcakes and even one of the actual Cupcake Cars.

Did it work?

Well, we did get nearly 1.5 million Facebook fans and more than 31,000 Twitter followers. So that’s pretty good, right?

Oh, and Little Debbie became the #1 cupcake in America.

Key Results

  • 1.4 million Facebook fans
  • 31,000 Twitter followers
  • 84 million organic social impressions
  • 114 million paid social impressions
  • 360-degree program with advertising, social media, in-store and guerilla elements
  • #1 cupcake in America
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