Another year in retail has come and gone, and while 2020 was unlike any other, there was one constant: brands rolling out the most absurd campaigns and products imaginable.
So take a moment to sit back, relax and reflect on some of the moments in the industry that brought a smile to our faces last year. Here's hoping brands and retailers can bring us the same level of ridiculousness in 2021.
1. Ben and Jerry's trip to the moon
The Vermont-based ice cream brand in May introduced a new flavor, Boots on the Moooo'n, to coincide with the release of the Netflix comedy drop, "Space Force," co-created by Steve Carell and Greg Daniels. The flavor featured "a universe of milk chocolate ice cream with fudge cows and toffee meteor clusters orbiting a sugar cookie dough core." That flavor combo alone would be enough to send us to the moon.
Ben & Jerry's took it one step further, though, and sent a pint 20 miles into the atmosphere to help promote its release.
But that's not the only news the ice cream maker made that month. Nike SB collaborated with Ben & Jerry's to release a sneaker inspired by the ice cream brand. Dubbed "Chunky Dunky," the Nike Dunk Lows feature cow print, pale blue and quirky details like drip marks on the logo, reminiscent of a Ben & Jerry's pint.
The shoes, which were sold at select Nike SB stores and on the SNKRS app for $100, initially sold out following their debut. Shortly after, resellers were asking as much as $1,700 for a pair — more than 10 times its original ticket.
While the shoes are definitely unique, nothing beats the real deal when it comes to ice cream.
2. Popeyes helped those in need with a fresh merch drop
Across the industry, companies stepped up in this time of crisis — whether by shifting production to make items like hand sanitizer or masks, giving away their products to healthcare workers on the front lines, or making some other effort to help those in local communities.
Popeyes in April announced a new campaign aimed at helping those in New Orleans, an area that has been hard-hit by the coronavirus. The fast-food chain, which was started in Louisiana, created a new menu item with a goal of providing more than 1 million meals to those in need. For $28, the "NOLA STRONG MEAL" came with 12 pieces of fried chicken, two sides, six biscuits, and a branded T-shirt and hat.
The company said all proceeds from the meal boxes went directly to Second Harvest Food Bank, which is the largest anti-hunger organization in the state. Popeyes also made a donation to Feed the Front Line NOLA and provided meals to the organization every Sunday.
"We are proud of our New Orleans heritage, and we are dedicated to supporting those in our community who need help during these difficult times," said Bruno Cardinali, head of marketing North America at Popeyes.
To help kick off the campaign, the fast-food chain released a short film that tapped the talent of some New Orleans natives, like actor Wendell Pierce, who narrated the piece.
3. Costco will 'kill' over its iconic hot dog combo
Costco is a place full of many wonders: 27-pound buckets of macaroni and cheese, $400,000 diamond rings and, of course, the $1.50 hot dog-soda combo. Oh, the joy of marching out of the warehouse with a full cart and a Costco hot dog in hand is incomparable. The price of such a prized product doesn't make sense and it doesn't need to.
But in September, a viral tweet provided a peek into exactly why the price has remained unchanged all these years.
absolutely losing my mind over this pic.twitter.com/LM0vaPvnVM— communism is good (@weirdcities) September 20, 2020
The tweet featured a screenshot from an article on Mental Floss, which referenced a 2018 story from 425 Business. The publication covered a luncheon hosted by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce in Washington where Costco CEO Craig Jelinek was the keynote speaker. The article featured quoted excerpts from his presentation, including this gem on why a soda and hot dog from the club retailer remains $1.50:
"I came to [Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal] once and I said, 'Jim, we can't sell this hot dog for a buck fifty. We are losing our rear ends,'" Jelinek said according to the excerpt. "And he said, 'If you raise the effing hot dog [price], I will kill you. Figure it out.'"
(!!!) We're screaming.
We love hot dogs as much as the next person, but this is a whole new level of commitment.
To help ensure consistent pricing, Costco introduced its Kirkland Signature quarter-pound hot dogs to its food courts by 2009, replacing the products from two former suppliers, one of which was Hebrew National.
And while this may appear to be an unconventional method of business operations, it appears to have worked as the iconic hot dog deal is — and shall remain — less than $2.
4. 'Stay the F* home'
By early April, nearly all Americans were under a stay-at-home order. But that didn't necessarily mean we had to sacrifice our sense of wanderlust.
Jennifer Baer, a senior graphic designer at NASA Ames Research Center, recreated vintage travel posters of the '20s and '30s with staying home in mind. Whether it was investing a little too much time into that one houseplant or binging some good TV on the couch for hours, she called on all of us to "Stay the F* home."
Hi. I designed some coronavirus travel posters for you. Stay the F* home. Love you all. pic.twitter.com/mzY52GFm6Z— Jennifer Baer (@jenniferbaer) March 26, 2020
By April 3, the post had already racked up more than 72,000 likes and nearly 22,000 retweets.
While the designs included some cheeky elements, like the line at the bottom that reads, "Issued by the Coronavirus Tourism Bureau," the message is one we could all take to heart.
5. Ikea made furniture fort instructions
While Ikea's stores remained temporarily shuttered in the spring — like many other nonessential retailers — consumers may still have caught the retailer's iconic step-by-step assembly directions floating around social media.
Ikea Russia in May pushed out directions for building forts made out of the retailer's flatpack furniture. The campaign was developed by Instinct creative agency and features instructions for six different house models: WIGWÅM, CÅMPINGTENT, CÅVE, FÖRTRESS, CÅSTLE, and HÖUSE.
"Parents no longer know how else they can entertain their children being stuck inside the four walls," Instinct said in a press release emailed to Retail Dive. "To those who are totally out of all ideas, IKEA Russia offers to build a [playhouse] using instruction and things which can be [easily] found in every home - blankets, bedspreads, chairs, stools etc. Or you can buy them in IKEA!"
This wasn't the first campaign in which Ikea leaned into the stay-at-home theme. In March, Ikea Israel teamed up with McCann Tel Aviv to create step-by-step instructions on how to stay safely indoors during the pandemic. The campaign featured visuals of locked doors and toilet paper levels. And the brand teamed up with Pizza Hut Hong Kong last year to develop a flat-packed, life-sized pizza saver, aka those tiny tables found on top of pizzas to prevent the cheese from sticking to the box.
So go ahead and build a castle or fortress with your kids, or for those without kids, build one for yourself. Because let's be honest, you never outgrow the joys of sitting inside your own blanket kingdom.
6. Goop's candle cashed in on womanhood
Gwyneth Paltrow and her lifestyle-commerce brand Goop have made a name over the years for pushing the boundaries and ruffling some feathers. And this home item was no exception.
Goop sold a candle with, er, a very unique scent. The product, which "smells like my vagina," according to the description, is made with geranium, citrusy bergamot, cedar, Damask rose and ambrette seed.
But the gift of filling your home with this one-of-a-kind scent doesn't come cheap. The 10.5 oz candle will set consumers back $75. We know what you're thinking: "Who would spend that much for a vagina-scented candle?" The answer is a lot of people. The very on-brand candle must have delighted the hearts of Goop followers everywhere because the product sold out shortly after its launch.
Knowing Gwyneth, though, we can't imagine this is the last product of that nature for Goop. The founder of the lifestyle brand has been very vocal over the years in speaking about her own body. Paltrow in the past revealed she had experimented with vagina steaming, which raised some eyebrows. And a poster for her Netflix show "The Goop Lab," which debuted in Jan. 2020, had people thinking of one thing only.
Though a $75 candle feels a bit extreme, we can't help but applaud her efforts in normalizing discussions around the human body.