The Hostess Snacks Instagram account dedicated to weird memes is actually good


Even Twinkies are wearing AirPods these days.  

And that’s because whoever is behind the Hostess Snacks’ Instagram page is a meme genius. A very kooky, imaginative genius. Or maybe geniuses? OK, it must be a panel of geniuses, eating Twinkies while Photoshopping AirPods onto Twinkies. Right?

The popular pastry-snack company has a very interesting presence on Instagram. They post daily photos of their classic pastries in whacky scenarios to their 123,000 followers, who are literally hungry for the content. 

Like a candy shop, their Instagram feed is colorful and full of things the dentist wouldn’t approve of. But it’s also full of images that look like things you’d encounter in a post-birthday-cake fever dream. Regular things, like car tires and snow boots are rendered to resemble Hostess’s famous pastries instead. And their followers eat it up. Comments from fans range from, “you certainly know how to catch my eye” to light-hearted confusion. 

Image: hostess snacks / instagram

After struggling with , the giant snack company made a splashy return a year later. 100 million Twinkies, CupCakes, and Donettes hit shelves within the first two weeks of their comeback, prompted by public demand. “…Hostess has a very exciting future,” said Dean Metropoulos, the company’s CEO in .

Regardless of the company’s business, the Hostess Snacks Instagram account is thriving. I’d be lying if I said that scrolling through the absurdly wonderful page didn’t invoke both hunger and nostalgia in me. But who is behind it all? The processed-sugar-craving 7-year-old in me needed to know. 

A little bit of sleuthing led me to the creative masterminds behind the weirdest corporate page on Instagram. Hostess Snacks works closely with Tattoo Projects, an ad agency in Charlotte, North Carolina, to ensure that their social media presence is as delicious as the Donettes and Ding Dongs they sell.

Buffy Kelly is the creative director and president of Tattoo Projects. I caught up with her about how the Twinkie magic is made for the ‘Gram. She’s been entrusted with the task of creating a “fun brand voice” for Hostess— and along with two other designers— she’s doing just that. She’s quick to mention that it takes a small village to pull the whole operation off without a hitch, though. 

“The actual creative work is just one part… don’t forget the strategy, account service, analytics, community management, and client partnership. It’s a huge team effort, and makes the feed what it is,” Kelly told Mashable via email. 

Tattoo utilizes monthly content calendars in order to develop a sweet social strategy. Though they focus on their target audience and the products they want to promote the most — obviously Twinkies — they also leave room for spur of the moment ideas based on trend reports. 

“We’ll see or hear something cool and text each other in the morning and say something like, ‘Bring your martini shaker and a leaf blower, I have an idea!’” Kelly says.

That’s how they came across the somewhat-dubious Vans challenge. Naturally, the viral trend was ripe for the addition of Twinkies flying through the air. Essentially, the phenomenon began when Twitter user @lanacutherlip posted a video showcasing the fact that no matter how they tossed their Vans shoes, they always landed right side up. 

Capitalizing on the trend, Hostess posted this: 

Of course this isn’t first time we’ve seen brands leveraging their social media followings to appeal to a younger, more internet-savvy demographic. It’s practically necessary in 2019. 

The fast food chain Wendy’s has most famously developed a social media voice that registers with their followers; it’s snarky and quick, easily retweet-able. Sometimes, it’s downright brutal. 

Instead of taking the all-too-generic route of emulating Twitter culture, Hostess has developed a unique social media strategy that puts its products front and center without sounding like an echo chamber. The latter of which is more suitable for sharing burger deals, anyway. 

Keith Peterfeso, Hostess’s brand director, works directly with the team at Tattoo. He describes the company’s social media presence as “deliciously unapologetically irreverent.” Peterfeso’s job is to oversee everything that Tattoo is producing and to make sure they’re highlighting specific products, especially during the launch of a new snack. 

For instance, when Suzy Q cakes were re-released with 50 percent more cake and 50 percent more cream, he made sure at least one post a week was dedicated to conveying that information. Of course, pair that information with Kelly’s vision, and well, it becomes messaging that works on a content crazed consumer base. 

“At the end of the year, Suzy Q had grown over a hundred percent from what it had been the previous year,” Peterfeso says. His enthusiasm matches that of the many people buying Hostess Snacks. “We also just put out a great product,” he chuckles.

But it’s not all about just posting fresh new memes, Kelly shares that follower engagement is a huge priority. She says they respond to about 6,000 comments each month. And they always manage to turn these quick digital exchanges into friendly banter revolving around the snack-in-question, no matter what people are saying. 

Image: hostess snacks / instagram

“It’s our job to create conversations, entertain and engage people with the fun of Hostess,” Kelly said.

Image: hostess snacks / instagram

Kelly notes there’s no shortage of inspiration when it comes to mining Hostess Snacks for content. In a time when pop culture and consumerism are so intertwined, they’ve done a solid job of incorporating memes of the moment into their content rolodex. By doing so, the creative team has cemented their position as a relevant brand in a saturated market.

 “There are enough funny ideas around here that we could be posting several times a day,” Kelly said. 

Over the three years that Tattoo has been working with Hostess, a cornucopia’s worth of whacky branded content has been posted consistently. Peterfeso says his favorite from the page is an ode to Game of Thrones involving Sno Balls, one of the company’s famous treats. Kelly leans towards the whackier side, citing a photo of a woman with Twinkies for lips as one of her favorites. 

But the creative director doesn’t rule out the future of Twinkie content and the multitudes it contains: “Who knows what we’ll come up with this week …”

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