consumer packaged goods

Star Energy, Novelty Power Most-Read CPG Stories


It was a year of continued change for CPG brands.

From navigating consumers’ shifting behaviors following changes wrought by the pandemic, to continued turbulence in the alcoholic beverage space -- including a flat beer market and falling sales for big beer brands -- to new brands making their presence felt across various CPG categories, there was a lot to keep up with this past year.

Since I joined Marketing Daily halfway through the year, my list of most-read stories is limited to the latter half of 2023. Despite that, one topic from the first half of the year was unavoidable. Among the stories readers were most engaged with, a few followed Bud Light and parent company ABInBev’s financial recovery, and marketing strategy, following the impact of a misinformation-fueled boycott campaign against Bud Light organized by anti-LGBTQ+ right-wing extremists.



The number 10 spot on the list of most-read CPG stories was about ABInBev’s turnaround from the financial impact of Bud Light’s sales failing to meet expectations. Covering the company’s Q3 earnings report, the story focused on ABInBev claiming the company was “moving in the right direction” white investing heavily in its U.S. marketing efforts.

The Thirst For New

One defining feature of many of this year’s top stories was a focus on novelty. From the continued emergence of AI in marketing, to first-time sponsors, the majority of this year’s most-read stories delivered something new.

Topping the list as the most-read story was a look into Coca-Cola’s innovative use of AI in its Coke Studio activation, created in collaboration with experiential agency Momentum Worldwide. Coca-Cola brought the experience to audiences at participating music festivals this summer, allowing them to create a track, music video, and album cover through the use of generative AI.

Coca-Cola’s strong year also made the company a top focus for Marketing Daily readers in general, with a story on Coca-Cola’s Q2 earnings exceeding analyst expectations ranking at No. 3.

The runner-up for most-read story also focused on a first, with nonalcoholic brand Recess  becoming the first official mocktail of a college football team. The story was also notable for exemplifying the rising popularity of nonalcoholic alternatives to traditional drinks. This will be an interesting trend to watch further develop in 2024, beginning with this month’s Dry January temperance tradition.

Another nonalcoholic first also factored into the list. The No. 7 most-read story was about Molson Coors’ 2024 brand refresh for Blue Moon, which arrives as the company is introducing what it’s positioning as “the first nonalcoholic wheat brew from a major brewer” with a nonalcoholic version of its flagship craft brand.

An attention-grabbing debut campaign from sanitary wipes brand Dude Wipes took the No. 4 spot. The cheeky campaign saw the brand drop its drawers for a series of ads debuting across digital and social channels.

Following that story, at No. 5, was one on a fabulous new brand launch, as founder Spencer Hoddeson spoke to me about the debut of vodka soda brand Gay Water. The conversation, and the brand’s raison d’etre also touched on some of the previously alluded to issues with anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry in the alcoholic beverages space, as Hoddeson believes it’s important to build queer community in a category lacking positive LGBTQ+ representation,

Star Power

Brands leaning on celebrity cachet is nothing new, with the practice long recognized as a reliable way to engage audiences.

No stranger to brand building, Martha Stewart is a coveted celebrity partner. The No.9 story on the list took a look at a campaign featuring an out-of-character message from the DIY queen. She partnered with Pepsi-owned tea brand Pure Leaf for a “Don’t Do It Yourself” campaign based on the premise that the as-good-as-homemade iced tea brand can help free up time for other hobbies -- of which Stewart, famously, has many.

The No. 8 story on the list focused on the 2024 Bud Light Tour. For the concert series, the ABInBev brand tapped popular country star Zach Bryan as a headliner for its upcoming Bud Light Backyard Tour, kicking off with a performance from Bryan in Las Vegas next month.

Coming in as No. 6 on the list  is a look at the year’s ultimate star: Barbie. “Brands Head to Barbieland” documented a few (of many) brand collaborations leaning into Greta Gerwig’s summer blockbuster adaptation of the Mattel icon. It also touched on another trend weaving its way into many stories in 2023: the proliferation of such brand collaborations, including some unexpected partners like, say, Barbie’s collaboration with Moon Oral Care.

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