Pete Zaroll Takes Totino’s in a New Direction


Dear, sweet, wonderful Totino’s Pizza Rolls. Delightful pillows filled with meat(?) and oil cheese, they seem the kind of product that, by this day and age, should have been relegated to the sidelines. They are literally everything you do not want to eat, seemingly primed for the teenaged boy set, and nothing more. Yet somehow, in an increasingly health conscious world, business for Totino’s is not only growing, but they’re successfully releasing new products.


Totino’s Facebook, January 2016

Let’s back track a minute here. Rightfully so, Totino’s is not it’s own business; it’s currently owned by General Mills. But it wasn’t always that way. Started as a take-out pizzeria in Minneapolis in 1951, Rose Totino soon launched a frozen pizza line in 1961, sold the business to Pillsbury in 1975 (later sold to General Mills), and became Pillsbury’s first female vice president (which is very cool). From there, a few more Totino’s products were developed and they settled as stalwarts in General Mills’ portfolio.

That is, until recently. Within the past two years, the Totino’s marketing team has taken an incredible leap, embraced the bizarre, and launched a campaign that almost seems unheard of from General Mills. As millennials get older, they have the tendency to reflect on favorites from their childhoods and share these memories with friends. The Totino’s team recognized this and pivoted their marketing efforts from parents to young adults, and the result has been nothing short of brilliant.

Admittedly, Totino’s did luck out. With the popularity of “25 Toys from the 90s You Forgot About” posts on Buzzfeed and the like, people have been talking about their nostalgic favorites and Totino’s happened to be one of the lucky few frequently brought up. The marketing team started to realize this and pounced. Initially dipping their toes in with retweeting funny comments about the brand and simply engaging with their customers, it evolved into a suite of social media sites and eventually, Tim & Eric and SNL produced skits that mirrored Totino’s new image. Not only did their approach reach their current customers, millions of people have effectively watched three minute commercials for the brand by choice.

my xmas list: 1. peace on earth 2. a sudden adjustment of my realistic expectations 3. some pizza rolls I guess

-@Totinos Twitter, December 2016

With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and an active Tumblr they don’t even mention on their website, Totino’s is reaching their customers on their playing field and seemingly, it is working. People are talking about Totino’s, and their cultural relevancy is increasing. But does a popular tweet really turn into profit? As it turns out, it does. Pizza Rolls are the nation’s best selling frozen appetizer/snack and Party Pizzas are the third best selling frozen pizzas. This past year, Totino’s also launched two new products–Stuffed Nachos and Pizza Sticks. For many companies, the path Totino’s is following could be risky, with executives being hesitant to risk offense and opting for stale language and stock photos  when instead their customers want dank memes. Totino’s listened, responded, and delivered. Pardon me, while I preheat the oven.

Twitter: @totinos
Facebook: Totino’s
Instagram: @totinos
Tumblr: Totino’s


3 responses to “Pete Zaroll Takes Totino’s in a New Direction

  1. Pingback: What’s That Brand Again? | What About It?·

  2. Pingback: Denny’s Does Digital | What About It?·

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