How Chubbies Drives Acquisition with Branded Content

By Tinuiti Team

How did a lifestyle shorts brand develop a cult fan base, inspire thousands of imitators, and grow to generate $40 million in revenue a year?

Two words: branded content.

Chubbies is not your ordinary example of brand marketing: it’s passionate, fun, and showcases the brand’s identity (and retro shorts) in a humorous way that resonates with their audience and generates a ton of organic traction.

Here’s a quick dive into what branded content is, some hilarious (and brilliant) examples by Chubbies, and best practices to consider for your own brand marketing.

What Is Branded Content?

Branded content is created to generate awareness of a brand by sharing and promoting it with consumers. The best examples of branded content is creative storytelling that inspire audiences to follow and endorse your brand and share it with their friends across social media.

At a time when millions of brands and companies are overlapping their targeting for the same audiences, the power of compelling branded content has become all the more important.

By developing branded content, businesses can bypass traditional advertising methods that consumers ignore anyway and focus on more effective methods.

Example A: a viral video of grown adults racing à la Mario Kart in real life.

What does the above video have to do with selling shorts? 

Nothing. But it’s generated half a million views and introduced hundreds of thousands of people to the Chubbies ethos.

Just because branded content isn’t directly promoting your product or company doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.

People like to do business with brands they feel comfortable with, in this case, make them laugh — which is the genius behind the Chubbies brand. 

By creating funny videos using their own office employees, Chubbies has bridged a connection with their target audiences not only as a humorous friend, but even as someone they’d want to party with on the weekend.

“That Friday Feeling,” AKA Evoking an Emotion

Good branded content doesn’t just sell your brand, it evokes emotion in your audience.

“Chubbies started out by building on that emotional connection to that fun throwback moment — short shorts. Our content marketing built on that nostalgia and engaged in community building on social platforms like Snapchat, Facebook & Instagram.”

kevin page chubbies

-Kevin Page, Senior Manager of Media Strategy & Measurement at Chubbies

Page says that by capturing the emotions associated with positive events such as going to the beach as a kid or getting off of work on a Friday, Chubbies has been able to transform themselves into more than just short shorts for men — they’ve built themselves as a fun, leisure brand that anyone can participate in.

chubbies brand ethos beliefs website

Building on that Friday at 5 feeling” and designing creative clothing inspired by the dads of the 70’s and 80’s, Chubbies has become synonymous with positive feelings toward retro, throwback, and nostalgia. 

chubbies instagram content
Funny videos, office pranks, and Dad memes: a non-traditional approach to branded content strategy that has garnered Chubbies’ Instagram page over 400,000 followers.

However, that’s not all that goes into effective branded content.

Unless your brand already has enormous exposure, promoting your content effectively is just as important as producing it. That’s where branded content marketing comes into play.

Branded Content Marketing

If you want to increase your awareness and get the full longevity of the stellar content that you’re creating, you’ll need a content marketing strategy.

Page explains that Chubbies leverages several different channels to distribute its branded content to build visibility.

Performance Media

A crucial part of Chubbies branded content marketing strategy revolves around paid ads on social media, especially through Facebook performance marketing.

They focused on building a community on Facebook through spontaneous, raw content, they were able to build authentic relationships with their customers.

Chubbies’ Facebook page has nearly 2 million likes, and serves as much as a viral content machine as an actual store.

chubbies facebook
Source: Chubbies Facebook

Chubbies also pushed for innovation in their performance marketing strategy. They stay on top of changing social media algorithms, push organic content, and then amplify some of that branded content with ad dollars.

chubbies ad branded content

Google Search, Shopping, and Local Inventory Ads

Much like social media, the world of search marketing is also in a constant state of change.

Page explains that Chubbies has seen success by using paid search and shopping to regularly test different campaign types and then optimize towards the media mix with best performance.

chubbies shorts sem

These different tests include

“As traditional retailers decline, it was important for us to maintain high standards for Chubbies e-commerce efforts,” explains Page.

“We made sure to prioritize new products and placements within Google as well as local inventory feeds.”

Maintaining a omnichannel business that distributes and sells both online and in stores across the U.S. is no easy task, says Page. Which is why Chubbies put time in to learn the ins and outs while their inventory was still at a manageable level.

The Importance of the “Feedback Loop”

No matter how great your content may be, it’s critical to keep a pulse on how it’s being received by using what Page describes as a “feedback loop.”

By monitoring comments on their branded content across social media, Chubbies gathers data on which products are and content are big hits with their customer base.

Using that data, they can then deliver it to their designers and create products that are more likely to resonate with their customer base.

chubbies feedback loop branded content
The comments section of your branded content can be used to clue in on what your customers want from your brand. Source: Chubbies Instagram

This “feedback loop” is used across several different parts of the business, and can be used to inform everything from content strategy to product design.

Branded Content is a Long-term Strategy

At the end of the day, branded content is one of the most effective forms of marketing, but it takes time to build.

Chubbies has exploded in popularity over the last eight years by capitalizing on building an emotional connection with their audience through clever branded content — and then using the public’s feedback with that content to inform the direction of future content and products.

Some of Page’s big takeaways for Chubbies’ branded content success:

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