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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

How Fruit Roll-Ups’ TikTok Strategy Helped A Viral Trend Happen With The Brand, Not To The Brand

Finalist in Real Time Response, Food & Beverage

Silver Honor in TikTok


In 2023, General Mills fruit snack brands were the undisputed category leader at more than 50% share, but challenging economic forces weren’t in our favor. So when we saw this TikTok that showed a scoop of mango sorbet getting added to the middle of a Fruit Roll-Up and instantly freezing to create a crunchy fruit-wrapped ice cream burrito, we knew this was our moment to get the internet (and the world) excited about trying Fruit Roll-Ups in a brand new way.

When we discovered this incredible creation was starting to pick up steam, we didn’t yet have a presence on TikTok. It just wasn’t on the prioritized roadmap for 2023. But that was okay! We had a solid strategic base for our holistic presence on social that was easily adaptable to TikTok now that the conversation and audience had shifted there.

That strategic base? To use our malleable fruit snack product as a permission slip for creative play among our community.

What ended up being Google's #5 Trend of 2023 was at the heart of what we set out to do on social every single day: generate opportunities to foster play.

Strategy and Execution

We created a channel and started encouraging play ASAP, starting with hitting the comments hard to begin building an engaged community. We also used this time to listen and learn all the ways people were talking about Fruit Roll-Ups and ice cream, including the words they used to describe it and the types of content they were creating to show it off.

We all know brands can be rigid when it comes to launching new social channels, creating extensive content calendars of one-way messages and a very serious publishing schedule. 

One of the brand’s first videos was a Stitch of a popular influencer’s TikTok which amassed 6M views overnight. 

This organic approach to generating content helped to steer conversation back to our channel as the trend hit us like a sugar rush. This Stitch amassed 6M views overnight.

We continued this focus on play with more Duets and Reply To Comment videos each day. But we’re still a brand. And brands have to ensure safety, too. We put guard rails around play, stemming from a creator who tried to convince the world that the plastic that wraps our product disappeared when frozen. Do not eat the plastic, people!

Our subtle correction Stitch of that video struck virality again with 18M views.

The brand saw a 3,066% increase in total brand mentions between March – June 2023, averaging 407 daily mentions. Two national competitors averaged just 20 mentions a day during the same time frame.


All that viral buzz drove to a fury of media attention, social engagement, and sales.

Jimmy Fallon joked about it on the Tonight Show. Drew Barrymore talked up the trend. And Scarlett Johansson took part in the challenge on the Today show. Retailers like Target promoted the trend in their Circle app and retailers nationwide sold out. One couple even got arrested for smuggling Fruit Roll-Ups into another country in their luggage.

Listening and responding to the community worked. Creating quick-turn content, seeding play into the internet, and driving new product usage occasions worked even better. The social results: 

The campaign grew our following from 0 to over 150K in under 6 weeks, and it is now a prioritized social channel for the brand.

We even trended in Trends! That’s right, Google’s 2023 Year In Search placed us #5 among internet trends. Now that’s our Roman Empire.

And sales? Yeah, it sold out product at all major retailers.

All that conversation sold enough product to scale Mount Everest 28 times and drove a sales increase at one national retailer by 30%. Those are some sticky results!

Consumers wanted to play with their food, and by joining them, fueling their excitement, and encouraging play, Fruit Roll-Ups is showing others how to make sure a viral trend happens WITH your brand, not TO your brand.


Video for How Fruit Roll-Ups’ TikTok Strategy Helped A Viral Trend Happen With The Brand, Not To The Brand

Entrant Company / Organization Name

The Social Lights, General Mills


Entry Credits