25-year-old protein cookie brand runs first-ever national ad campaign

By Kristine Sherred contact

- Last updated on GMT

Lenny & Larry's says it pioneered the protein snack market with the launch of The Complete Cookie in 1993.
Lenny & Larry's says it pioneered the protein snack market with the launch of The Complete Cookie in 1993.

Related tags: Protein, protein bars, Cookies, Functional foods, Fiber, Marketing, branding, Advertising, Red bull, growth strategy

Lenny & Larry’s has hit the airwaves with three commercials focused on the taste and nutritional value of its protein- and fiber-packed snacks – its first national ad campaign since the brand's 1993 launch.

Los Angeles-based creative agency Kastner developed the spots – known collectively as ‘Taste Buds’ – for Lenny & Larry’s, which rebranded its packaging in 2013.

“The brand has grown quickly, thanks to the support of many loyal consumers and retailers, but there are so many more people we think would like to know about our products that make healthy eating fun and delicious,”​ VP of marketing Megan Crossland told BakeryandSnacks.

Lenny & Larry's

Until now, the company has relied on grassroots marketing and organic growth gained through customer loyalty; however, with protein bars booming beyond their original niche, fitness-oriented market, the brand felt the time was right to reignite conversation with consumers.

“We have a differentiated proposition, whether you’re shopping in the protein bar aisle or the cookie aisle. In either environment, we bring something different. Taste Buds and our tagline – ‘Shockingly Delicious’ – is our way of communicating how delicious and indulgent more nutritious snack choices can be."

The commercials feature two friends inside a stylized ‘stomach,’ chatting while waiting the next meal’s intake of 'bland' protein bars.

Crossland explained the spots’ messaging as divergent from traditional advertising because it intends “to not only sell, but entertain and make people laugh.”

Kastner CEO Brandon Rochon added, “Lenny & Larry’s changed the snack game​. As its first creative partner ever, we needed and wanted to bring [the brand] into new conversations that are shaping culture and becoming part of people’s lives.”

The right time for attention

Lenny & Larry's The Complete Cookie Snickerdoodle

The concept echos the brand’s own 1993 origins, as friends and bodybuilders Barry Turner and Benny Graham sought a better-tasting protein snack to fuel their workouts.

One year after launching The Complete Cookie – which boasts 16g of plant protein and 10g of fiber – Whole Foods put the product on its shelves. Growth took time, given the lack of competitor products on the market in the early ‘90s. However, Lenny & Larry’s found a niche at outdoor retailers like Erewhon (owner of Uncle Dan’s Outfitters) and gyms, including Gold’s and Powerhouse.

The duo sold the company in 2001, but Turner bought back his half six years later with a new partner, Don Crouch. In 2017, they sold majority control to investors. He has remained as a shareholder and advisor in marketing and R&D.

After the 2013 brand revamp, distribution expanded to Walmart, Kroger, Vitamin Shoppe and 7-Eleven, and eventually Target and Walgreens in 2016. That same year, Lenny & Larry’s added a 2oz cookie to its lineup.

Today, more than 50k stores across the US carry Lenny & Larry’s cookies and brownies – making it ‘by far the market leader’ in protein cookies, according to the company.

“We are excited for consumers to further interact with our brand via Taste Buds, in a new and entertaining way that lives wherever they are – the gym, the grocery aisle or watching digital and social media,”​ said Kastner’s Rochon.

The idea has legs that will easily resonate in years to come, he continued.

“Hopefully we’ve made something that will infiltrate pop culture and put Lenny & Larry’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue.”

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