Skinny Butcher's Crazy Crispy Chick'n Nuggets are part of a high-profile promotion at Walmart for the popular Netflix series "Stranger Things."
PG: Let’s talk a little bit about innovation when it comes to marketing. Can you talk about what Skinny Butcher might be bringing to bear in this area?
DZ: Yeah. It’s really fascinating to me, because when we were building Garden Fresh years ago, Google, Facebook, they weren’t even invented yet. At Garden Fresh, everything was at point of sale. So as we’re embracing this new technology and saluting it, we’re kind of saying, what makes our brand special, and how do we extrapolate that into the digital zeitgeist? So again, our brand is designed to put a smile on people’s face. These are chicken nuggets, for crying out loud. They should be fun. So we want to have fun with it. So we’re engaging with a bunch of digital media firms, and we’re telling them to go ahead and have fun with us.
PG: You have something cooking with Netflix. Do tell!
DZ: Our manufacturing partner is Golden West Food Group, run by Josh Solovy and Zach Levenson in Los Angeles. When I went out to L.A. to meet them and showed them our brand aesthetic, they wanted to license the brand. And I said: “Look, I’m not looking to license the brand. I like to control my manufacturing. I want to be partners.” So we brought them in as a very significant equity partner, and we gave them a contract to do all our manufacturing. And they’re doing just a phenomenal job. Golden West does a lot with Walmart, and Walmart has a “Stranger Things” deal. Golden West was in touch with Walmart, which said, “We’re looking for a chicken nugget.” And Golden West said, “Well, we’ve got a plant-based chicken nugget that we’re really proud of.” So they ran samples over to Netflix, and Netflix said: “Environmentally, this is on-brand for us. We should be doing something plant-based.” But they also said these are the best chicken nuggets they’ve ever had, either regular or plant-based. So we were very flattered by that response. We are going to be part of the Walmart “Stranger Things” promotion. It’ll be in concert with their series finale, which begins in May. There’s going to be 11 “Stranger Things” products throughout the store.
We’re going to have our Crazy Crispy Skinny Butcher nuggets co-branded with “Stranger Things.” We met with Netflix and we told them, “Hey, we’re a brand that doesn’t take ourselves too seriously, so have fun with this.” And they said, “Well, how much fun can we have?” And I said: “Just knock yourself out. If you go too far, we’ll tell you.”
PG: How far did they go?
DZ: Well, one of the main characters in “Stranger Things” is Eleven, and whenever she goes to this upside-down world, she comes back and she might have a little bit of blood under her nostril. So we told them, “Go ahead and put some blood under our winking butcher’s nostrils.” They said, “Are you crazy?” I said: “Look, we’re going to take a chance. We think our brand aesthetic and our brand personality is that we should put a smile on people’s face, so go ahead and do it.” And they did, and we’re going to run with it. We’re going to take a chance with it, and we’re going to be on an end cap at Walmart. It’ll be nationwide in May. And Walmart is putting a point-of-sale sticker on the freezer door, and it’s going to have a QR code. And a consumer can scan the code and have a map pop on their phone that will be a kind of scavenger hunt for going around Walmart and buying other “Stranger Things” items.
PG: It’s a great brand-building exercise for you.
DZ: Yes, it’s a great way to onboard us nationwide at Walmart. Walmart’s really been great about it. Netflix has been phenomenal, and we’d like to expand the relationship with them even beyond this.
PG: What else might be in the pipeline for Skinny Butcher at retail or marketing-wise, or anything at all?
DZ: We’re coming to market right now with chicken nuggets, chicken tenders, chicken patties, and chicken breasts. Very soon, we’re going to have sliders, so we’re really excited about that. In probably about three months, we’re going to have spicy items out. And then probably in the third quarter — and this is something I’m really excited about — we’re going to have fish sticks and fish fillets. We’re having fun with our brand. On our fish sticks and fish fillets packaging, we’re literally putting a sea captain’s hat on our beloved butcher, and it is just putting a smile on people’s faces when we share it with them.