Marketing Campaign Case Studies

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Previous marketing had first stressed the two main ingredients of Reese’s—chocolate and peanut butter—as individual elements. Next, the combination of the two was emphasized. In 1987, however, the company’s research revealed that consumers could not replicate Reese’s by combining chocolate and peanut butter at home. The product’s unique taste was identified as a key selling point. In addition, the research showed that many consumers had peculiar ways of eating Reese’s peanut butter cups. The ‘‘There’s No Wrong Way to Eat a Reese’s’’ campaign featured the humor that consumers expected of the brand, and they were strongly focused on the product.
The first six commercials in the campaign began airing in 1988, and additional spots were released in waves. Five of them ran in 1997. The campaign initially consisted of television commercials and included print ads after 1994. One print advertisement showed a Reese’s peanut butter cup with four holes that made it look like a button. The caption read, ‘‘I make my own special alterations. (William Hamilton, Tailor).’’ In another print ad the candy had been nibbled into the shape of the United States. The caption said, ‘‘I start in Seattle and work my way around. (Miss Moore, Geography Teacher.)’’ A third showed a vampire leaving two fang marks where he had sucked the peanut-butter center out through the chocolate shell. The campaign featured a lively cast of additional characters, including a barber, a dragon, a secret agent, a private detective, a golfer, an Internal Revenue Service agent, a postal worker, and a mentalist. Television spots included one that began with an announcer saying, ‘‘How domino champ Charlie Armstrong eats a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.’’ A drum roll accompanied a close-up of a little boy peering around a row of carefully balanced candy packages. To the sound of falling dominoes, the boy tipped over the first package, and the camera followed the rapidly falling Reese’s across the table until the last package flipped one piece of candy into the boy’s hand. The boy said, ‘‘Yeah.’’ Clapping and cheers were heard in the background. As the camera zoomed in on two peanut butter cups and their wrapper, the announcer concluded, ‘‘There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s.’’ Another began with an announcer saying, ‘‘How librarian Harriet Causbie eats a Reese’s peanut butter cup.’’ The words also appeared on the screen in gold letters against an orange and chocolate-brown background, the trademark colors of Reese’s candies. The scene then shifted to a library, where a serious woman in a gray suit sat at her desk. A sign over her head said, ‘‘Quiet please.’’ She held a piece of candy and shook her finger at the camera as she whispered, ‘‘I eat them as quietly as I can.’’ At that moment the sign fell with a crash, but she continued eating her candy. The commercial ended with a view of two peanut butter cups and their wrapper against an orange and brown background. A voice-over stated, ‘‘There’s no wrong way—Shhh—to eat a Reese’s.’’
In March 1997 Hershey began promoting a new product in the Reese’s line, Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cups, with an estimated $10 million advertising campaign that appeared in print media and on television. Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cups consisted of peanut butter, milk chocolate, and a chocolate cookie, which gave the product an interesting texture. In April the company distributed 50 million coupons and 8 million free samples of the new product. Later in the year the cookie cups were included in the ‘‘There’s No Wrong Way to Eat a Reese’s’’ campaign. Another line extension, the Reese’s Nutrageous candy bar, had been introduced in 1994. It received $9.5 million for advertising in 1995 and $5.4 million for the first six months of 1996. In comparison, the company spent $16.2 million to advertise regular and crunchy Reese’s peanut butter cups in 1995 and $9.2 million for the first six months of 1996.

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