Postmates Taps Too Hot to Handle Star to Hype a Cheat Meal Disguised as Salad and Superfood

Forget those resolutions, says a campaign that latches onto a judgment-free trend in 2023 marketing

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Reality show heartthrob Harry Jowsey, an alum of the Netflix hit Too Hot to Handle, stares into the camera and bats his bedroom eyes. He knows you’ve been on your best behavior—it’s resolution season, after all—but he has other ideas.

“We’re halfway through January and, babe, it’s time to be naughty,” says the buff and shirtless Aussie, labeled a “temptation expert” in the 60-second spot in which he’s seen working out (naturally) and stepping out (on his green juice).

Jowsey, with 10 million social followers and a budding entrepreneurial career, is hawking a Postmates “cheat meal” that’s a diet-busting combination of carbs, dairy and sugar. But to spare consumers from judgment, it comes in packaging labeled “salad,” “antioxidants” and “superfood”—code for 18-inch cheese pizzas, garlic knots with marinara sauce and cookies.

Postmates, continuing to put its irreverent foot forward, conceived the limited-time product offer and the marketing around it as a counterpoint to typical beginning of the year programs.

“Everyone makes resolutions, but they’re incredibly hard to stick to,” David Kim, the brand’s executive creative director, told Adweek. “And while a lot of brands are trying to help people keep their resolutions, we’re telling you to break them. We’re contrarian like that.”

Postmates, which partnered with Prime Pizza for the Los Angeles-only deal and developed the campaign in-house with director Lee Einhorn, wanted to tap into a cultural conversation about deprivation versus indulgence.

“Self-care is the buzzword of the past several years,” Kim said. “Part of that is treating yourself with things that make you feel better when the world is a tough place to be.”

Postmates

Tsk-tsk me not

Though cheekier than most, Postmates isn’t alone in taking a more empathetic approach to the start of 2023. A number of brands—Soylent, WeightWatchers and Buffalo Trace Distillery, among them—are purposely steering clear of finger-wagging in their first-quarter marketing.

Food tech brand Soylent, in hyping its plant-based nutrition bars, shakes and powders, is speaking out against fad diets and preaching the gospel of healthy routines, telling consumers to “let go of extreme resolutions and get back on track with sustainable solutions.”

The message comes from a consumer insight, according to Soylent, citing its own study that found 47% of Americans believe small changes, not sweeping declarations, make for better outcomes.

In that same research, 50% of consumers reported feeling annoyed and overwhelmed by the polished hard-body images they see on social media in January, and 33% know someone whose mental health has been negatively impacted by trying to maintain a New Year’s resolution. (Only 12% of people who made resolutions in 2022 kept them through the year, per the survey.)

That data informs the brand’s gentler, more humane approach, intended to be the opposite of high-pressure “new year, new you” mantras that CEO Demir Vangelov said “don’t necessarily promote positive changes in the long term.”

Fit for life

Fitness and wellness brands, including vitamins and supplements, have similarly jumped on the resolution-lite bandwagon.

The upscale gym chain Equinox debuted the slogan “We don’t speak January,” along with the hashtag #ItsNotFitnessItsLife, and closed new memberships on Jan. 1. After some blowback—critics called it another way to ostracize lapsed exercisers and newbies—the brand said it meant to encourage year-round lifestyle changes rather than zeroing in on a single month.

Even the venerable WeightWatchers program—which obviously has poundage front and center in its name, no matter how much it tries to rebrand as simply WW—has launched ads with taglines like “Let’s eat,” and “Finally! Weight loss for people who love food.”

One spot in the “Return to feeling good” campaign shows a woman dropping a large shopping bag onto a return counter at a retailer, asking if she can trade in “all this negative self-talk” about her weight.

Run a mile, or don’t

And there’s also Buffalo Trace, a distillery in Kentucky with a portfolio of brands and roots that stretch back to 1775. Its judgment-free promo revolves around lacing up the running shoes and taking to the trails. Or not.

The brand is asking, but not policing, a “run a mile for bourbon” challenge that will give the winner a first-class trip and an overnight stay at the historic Stagg Lodge on the distillery grounds in Franklin County. Other perks include a private chef-made dinner, a tour of the property, $800 worth of merchandise, $500 spending money and a charitable donation.

The family-owned company is celebrating its 8 millionth barrel produced since Prohibition, which comes amid a $1.2 billion expansion at the distillery over the past several years.

A dedicated website, willrunforbuffalotracebourbon.com, asks participants to check off a box saying they ran a mile. But in truth, the contest won’t hold anyone’s feet to the fire, allowing such variations as walking, jogging, cheering someone else on or simply visualizing the movement. In less than 48 hours, the challenge has logged 12,000 entries.

“Given that National Ditch Your Resolution Day was on Jan. 17, we knew some people may be wavering in terms of keeping up the resolutions they made. And we wanted to offer a simpler alternative that may not mean scrapping resolutions per se, but it may mean evolving them a bit,” Sara Saunders, CMO of parent company Sazerac, told Adweek. “There’s running and then there’s ‘running for bourbon,’ and we think bourbon-loving fans would agree the latter is a better option.”

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