The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Smoothie King: Smoothie No-Hander

Silver Honor in Other Platform


While Smoothie King’s awareness was strong, their conversion was declining. This was driven in part by the brand’s previously narrow target: elite athletes who turn to smoothies for pre-workout fuel and post-workout recovery. 

On a fitness scale where 1 is “never exercising or eating healthy,” and 10 is “working out and eating clean everyday,” Smoothie King’s previous campaign had been focused on the 9s and 10s. 

But quantitative and qualitative research revealed most out of home smoothie drinkers are between a 4 and a 7 on the fitness scale. So we zeroed in on a target we call “Health Hackers,” a target aligned by a critical insight, that real people’s health journey’s aren’t linear: sometimes we nail it, and sometimes we just say ‘screw it.’ Indeed, while our Health Hacker audience is always looking for healthy alternatives that help them balance their diet and get health benefits with every meal, they sometimes fall down for fast food.

To help Health Hackers see Smoothie King as a way to “nail it” more often in their health journeys, we needed to convince them to swap their burgers, burritos and frappuccinos for Smoothie King.

To prove our point, we inserted ourselves in more everyday moments when our audience might be tempted to deviate from healthier options and encouraged them to think of Smoothie King instead. All with the goal to increase same store sales for the brand systemwide.


Strategy and Execution

To expand the definition of “athlete” we turned to sports' more relatable counterpart: Esports. Smoothie King took on a small sponsorship with CECC May Madness, an Esports competition.

Gamers spend a lot of time in their chairs, and find it hard to step away from the screen to eat something healthy. They end up eating greasy fast food that weighs them down. It’s no wonder that McDonald’s is the marquee sponsor of the games. 

Enter Smoothie King’s No-Hander. We hacked the esports competition by giving the announcers and gamers custom baby smoothie carriers to power up hands-free. Gamers loved it, sipping on Smoothie King’s power-packed blends while battling the competition. 

Because Smoothie King wasn’t a main sponsor, we knew the challenge was to make merch that gamers would choose to wear. A smoothie no-hander that kept their hands free was genuinely helpful for the focused gamers who sported the merch.

The activation came to life on Twitch, where the Esports competition was streamed. We built on earned momentum by posting the no hander on our organic social channels to inspire everyday gamers to power up with Smoothie King.




Smoothie King’s No-Hander merch asserted the brand as the ideal gamers’ meal by providing an easy way to eat healthy while playing. In gamer language, it was a GGWP (good game well played). While Smoothie King had only a small sponsorship, we hacked the event and turned the marquee sponsor, McDonalds, into an NPC (non-playable character). 

Turns out that gamers are apt to swap their burgers and burritos for a healthy smoothie. The Twitch activation played a role in helping to win Smoothie King’s most profitable sales period in company history. As one activation in a brand refresh campaign, it contributed to campaign results like 13% Same Store Sales (+5% above benchmark), 4.6% Same Store Transactions (+2pts above benchmark), and 8% Same Store Check Amount (+1.5pts above benchmark) YoY.



Video for Smoothie King: Smoothie No-Hander

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Barkley, Smoothie King


Entry Credits