Up My Smoke

The formulaic negativity around the Snoop Dogg and Solo initiative is a load of maliciously foul crap, and emblematic of a sickness that ails the entire industry. Among the many questions I have about this media goat rodeo, when did we start taking our marketing effectiveness cues from Rolling Stoned?

The media coverage turned on Solo’s newly former CEO, John Merris, quickly and in a most unimaginative way. A week ago Merris was being celebrated in the Dallas 500, and now Rolling Stone is Google-bombing him as an “epic fail.”  Cheese and rice y’all, the ink wasn’t near dry on his 2023 recap blog post before they jumped on him like flies on stink. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, honestly.



Here’s everything you need to know about John Merris running a company: $16 million in revenue in 2018 to $360 million in 2021.

I love my Solo stove. Love it. Every guy in my neighborhood bought one. In fact, a bunch of us bought them at the same time. I mean, everyone bought one. I’m going to go outside to light one up right now, and it’s 18 degrees in New Jersey. It doesn’t smoke that much, and it generates heat with a smooth burn. Get it?

By the way, I don’t know Mr. Merris. We aren’t friends, and I’ve never worked for him. Not that it should matter to anyone reading, but he sounds like the brand of fearless t I’d like to know.

The "Giving up smoke" campaign with Snoop Dog was purified liquid genius, and the next person at Solo's helm should be thanking John Merris. For one, they can blame every failure on the guy before them, while simultaneously claiming victory for the smallest wins. Second, and more importantly, the long-term gain from Snoop's smoke has yet to be realized. It’s a win-win-win. Who wouldn’t want that job?

Merris crushed it, because he braved thinking big and going long. But that’s not how we play the game these days. Relying on short metrics for long-range strategy is petrified stupidity, a notion that's been around since the first-time paid search ads saved the Internet back in the early aughts. “Hooked on short-term metrics” should be the long, sad story of direct attribution, a.k.a., performance marketing.

We are victims of our own perceived accountability folly. You simply cannot grow a company beyond its immediately addressable market through buying more directive intent, directly accountable ads. You certainly can’t do it with imaginary attribution models either.  That’s the problem with measuring ad spend, you're either hooked on direct attribution or working with fictitious numbers. There’s no middle ground, which is why creative thinking is a lost or dying art form.

Maybe he overpaid for Snoop. Maybe he didn’t. I couldn’t find exact numbers, but look at the nontraditional Snoop “Call of Duty” deal. The Solo Stove thing isn’t "Call of Duty," obviously, but when I think of Snoop, I don’t think Tier 1 SEAL Operator. Yet, the potential upside of selling $20 virtual Snoop COD skins to maybe 5% of the 250 million gamers for 20 bucks a pop is not insignificant. I’m no John Forbes Nash Jr., but that looks like right around $250 million. Dollars. Yes.

The lesson here is, using Snoop Dogg equals printing money. The rest of this business is just academic. Speaking of the early aughts, Todd Phillips cut a two-picture deal with Snoop and grossed around $250 million at the box office. There’s that number again. Corona, GrubHub, Petco, Skechers, Bic, and a laundry list of burner brands are all in the business of Snoop because he makes them money. Can they all draw a direct line from Snoop to money? Nah.

Then there’s Martha Stewart. Love. Try measuring the Snoop/ Martha team’s value. You can’t because it’s too epic to assign numbers, and only a fool would try. I’m making some Pepperoni Pizza for Playas on my Solo Stove right now. At least one economics professor I know thinks Snoop partnerships will make billions. Put that in your stove and smoke it.

There are billions to be made. God help me with my self-loathing for doing it, but I’ll invoke Jonathan Swift: “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” Well, the dunces are out in force, but to my knowledge nobody ever credited inspired duncery for a purchase.  We need to get behind creative thinkers, not light them up.


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