Monday, April 26, 2010
In the 1990s the U.S. retail chocolate industry was worth $13 billion annually, according to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, and most of the top-selling chocolate candies were made by either Hershey or Mars, Inc., a private company owned by one of the nation’s wealthiest families. Hoover’s Company Capsules placed the value of the Mars company at $13 billion. The Arizona Republic reported that Mars had more than $1 billion in annual sales in 1997. The company’s products included M&M’s, Snickers, Three Musketeers, Milky Way, Skittles, and Starburst candies; Twix snacks;
Uncle Ben’s rice; and several brands of pet food. Hershey led the overall candy market in the United States, and Mars was second. According to Candy Industry Magazine, Reese’s peanut butter cups were the fourth most popular chocolate candy bar in 1997, with 9 percent of the market. M&M’s Chocolate Candies were the leading chocolate candy worldwide and had 16 percent of the market in the United States. Hershey’s chocolate bars had 10 percent; Snickers bars had 8 percent;
Butterfinger bars and York Peppermint Patties each had 4 percent; Crunch bars, Three Musketeers bars, and Russell Stover chocolate bars each had 3 percent; and Reese’s Nutrageous bars had 2 percent. Hershey’s Kisses and Kit Kat bars, made by Hershey, were also popular. The top-selling Mars brand and Reese’s main competitor, M&M’s, had a series of enormously successful campaigns. In the past the brand had been marketed with the tagline ‘‘M&M’s Melt in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands.’’ In a 1996 promotion consumers had voted to replace tan M&M’s with blue. Advertising in 1997 featured animated M&M characters named Red, Yellow, and Blue to represent the three main colors of M&M’s. Mars also designed its Internet site to look like a tour of a movie studio where each animated character had a trailer full of photographs and other fanciful possessions. In 1997 Mars responded to consumer suggestions and added a female Green character, and the ads featuring her played on the old myth that green M&M’s were an aphrodisiac. The campaign featuring these characters included celebrities such as Dennis Miller, B.B. King, and Tia Carerre playfully interacting with the M&M’s. The celebrities helped draw the attention of adult audiences, but the animated characters took center stage in the commercials. In a 1996 survey by USA Today ’s Ad Track the commercials ranked second out of more than 60 campaigns in the poll, with 45 percent of respondents saying they ‘‘liked the ads a lot.’’ In a 1997 survey by the American Marketing Association, fifth-grade students in Dallas listed spots for M&M’s among their favorite commercials. Competitive Media Reporting calculated that Mars spent about $20 million on television commercials for M&M’s during the first half of 1996. The other top-selling Mars candy, Snickers, also had a popular campaign attached to it. Snickers had long been advertised as the perfect snack to satisfy hunger, but since 1995 the message had taken on a more lighthearted slant. A strategy revolving around the tagline ‘‘Hungry? Why Wait?’’ was developed to target males 18 to 22 years old, and more commercials were aired during sports programs on television. In one spot an elderly man had just finished painting a giant-size logo of the Chiefs football team between a pair of goalposts when a player commented, ‘‘Hey, that’s great. But who are the Chefs?’’ The painter stared at the misspelling, muttered ‘‘Great googily moogily!’’ and took comfort in a Snickers bar as he resigned himself to the fact that the entire logo would have to be repainted. A voice-over said, ‘‘Not going anywhere for a while? Grab a Snickers.’’ In another spot a coach informed a football team, ‘‘Listen up. This year we gotta be a little more ‘politically correct’ with the team prayer.’’ A priest began the prayer, but the coach interrupted him to let a Rabbi take over, then a Native American shaman, a mystic from India, an Eastern Orthodox priest, and a long line of other religious leaders. ‘‘Not going anywhere for a while?’’ asked the announcer. ‘‘Grab a Snickers.’’ The ‘‘Team Prayer’’ spot was among the 10 most popular ads of 1997, according to a survey by USA Today ’s Ad Track. Nearly a third of respondents said they ‘‘liked the ad a lot,’’ and 26 percent said it was effective. About 40 percent of consumers with household incomes of at least $50,000 said they liked the campaign. Advertising Age reported that Snickers generated sales of $277 million from March 1997 to March 1998, an increase of 2.3 percent from the previous year. Competitive Media Reporting estimated that the 1996 advertising budget for Snickers was $42.2 million.