Brand of the Day: Why Has Cinnabon Tweeted More Than 63,000 Times?

Sweet shop touts cinnamon treats with heavy social media chatter

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

You'd think there wouldn't be much to say about a baked cinnamon roll with icing on top. But that hasn't stopped this mall chain with 1,181 locations worldwide from turning to Twitter literally every few minutes.

Usually, the news isn't exactly earth-shattering, and often it's pun-heavy. (Example: "Glaze all you want at these beautiful buns.") But the food-porn shots help.

Apart from making a sinfully good cinnamon roll, Cinnabon bakes up some clever guerrilla marketing to go along with it. The chain is notorious for pumping an aromatic cloud of fresh-baked-roll scent into the paths of mall shoppers, which has the effect of mesmerizing them inside the stores. Once there, beware: That innocent looking Caramel Pecanbon weighs in at 1,080 calories. Oh, but you all know that stuff. No decent treat is good for you.

Cinnabon corporate has trademarked the phrase "Life needs frosting," and customers in 48 states and 50 countries apparently agree.

Social Media Profile (as of 9/15/14)

Facebook Likes: 1.1 million

Twitter Followers: 63,729

Instagram Followers: 20,765

The brand never met a song lyric it didn't want to riff on in a tweet. (It also seems to personally @reply to almost every person who engages with it.) It makes similar posts on Facebook and Instagram—appetizing product shots with amusing captions—but is less profilic on those platforms (a post or two a day on FB, a post every few days on Instagram). The brand also hosts a regular #SweetTalk hashtag chat on Twitter.

Recent Advertising

The brand has done little traditional advertising over the years, relying on word of mouth, PR and, more recently, social media to drum up business.

In fact, the most recent ad on its YouTube page was posted more than two years ago—and is a co-marketing effort with Mrs. Freshley's.

The CMO's Philosophy

"Have a clear understanding of what the heart and soul of your brand is for consumers. Maintain that focus as you extend into what is relevant and meaningful for today's consumers," says Kristen Hartman, vp of marketing for Cinnabon. 

Fast Facts

• As a bakery item, the cinnamon roll dates to 1910.

• Company president Kat Cole got her start slinging chicken wings at Hooters. In 2012, she and the company appeared on an episode of CBS's Undercover Boss.

• Cinnabon's Classic roll goes by the nickname "Gut Bomb."

• In the mid 1980s, Cinnabon's founders ventured to Indonesia to find the best cinnamon.

• Last year, Cinnabon introduced a cinnamon-flavored vodka.

• In the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad's final season, Saul Goodman (played by Bob Odenkirk), contemplating his future with a new identity away from New Mexico, makes an offhand reference to Cinnabon. "If I'm lucky," he says, "in a month from now, best-case scenario, I'm managing a Cinnabon in Omaha." During the episode's premiere in 2013, the brand responded with the tweet below—perhaps it's sweetest ever.

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@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.