Marketing Campaign Case Studies

Friday, March 26, 2010


The Hershey Company acquired the H.B. Reese Candy Company in 1963, and with the acquisition came a popular peanut-butter-filled, chocolate-coated candy, Reese’s peanut butter cups. The Reese’s brand expanded over time to include Crunchy Peanut Butter Cups, Reese’s Nutrageous candy bar, and Reese’s Pieces, which in 1982 were made famous as the preferred treat of a lovable alien in the movie E.T. the Extraterrestrial. For almost 20 years, from 1969 to 1988, Hershey promoted its Reese’s peanut butter cups with the familiar tagline ‘‘Two Great Tastes that Taste Great Together’’ and with humorous television spots. That changed after research revealed that people had developed various methods of eating Reese’s peanut butter cups.
After reviewing the research, the company’s ad agency, Ogilvy & Mather of New York, created a series of humorous TV spots and print ads that emphasized the unique character of peanut butter cups and the people who ate them. Themed ‘‘There’s No WrongWay to Eat a Reese’s,’’ the campaign began in 1988, with new advertisements introduced each year through the 1990s. Some played up the shape or composition of the candy, while others hinged entirely on the traits of the person eating the peanut butter cup. One print ad depicted four Reese’s peanut butter cups with bites taken out of them to make them look like the four phases of the moon. The caption said, ‘‘I eat them in phases. (Richard Chandler, Astronomer).’’ The positive reactions to the new campaign showed that, while its long-running predecessor was a success, consumers had been ready for a change. As the ‘‘There’s No Wrong Way to Eat a Reese’s’’ campaign continued what would become a nearly 15-year run, studies conducted by the agency revealed that consumers enjoyed the ads, related to them, and connected them with the Reese’s brand. In the late 1990s an agency executive commented that, even after 10 years, the campaign ‘‘really worked.’’


Hershey originally picked ReeseSticks as the most promising contender among a field of four new products made with wafers and peanut butter. The company spent three years conducting focus groups, distributing free samples in locations such as shopping malls, and surveying several hundred consumers as it adjusted the recipe to achieve the most popular balance of chocolate, peanut butter, and wafers. Hundreds of names, including ‘‘Reeskies,’’ were considered before the product was christened. The New York office of Ogilvy & Mather created advertisements that emphasized the new line extension’s taste, texture, and connection to the familiar Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. In a 15-second television commercial called ‘‘Sawmill,’’ the blade of a buzzsaw—shaped like a round Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup on its side—sliced a crisp wafer in half. The chocolate and peanut butter of the blade melted in the process and coated the divided wafer to form two ReeseSticks. The commercial included the tag line ‘‘The Crisp You Can’t Resist!’’ The Los Angeles Times said that during the week of April 13-19, commercials for ReeseSticks aired 16 times on daytime network television, placing the message in 70 million homes. In addition to television commercials, the national launch of ReeseSticks in February 1998 was supported by advertisements in magazines such as People, and Sports Illustrated. More than 10 million samples of the product were given away at retail outlets, and 40 million coupons were either attached to the product’s packaging or inserted in Parade magazine in April. Standard packages of ReeseSticks sold for about 50 cents, but to encourage consumers to sample the new candy, trial-size ReeseSticks were priced at 25 cents for a short time after the product’s launch. Beginning in April some of the product’s packaging featured a tie-in to the motion picture Godzilla, which was scheduled for release on Memorial Day. When the National Football League season started, Hershey included ReeseSticks in its second annual $1 Million Kick promotion, which offered consumers an opportunity to kick a field goal during the Super Bowl. ‘‘The Crisp You Can’t Resist’’ ad ran in conjunction with the popular ‘‘There’s No Wrong Way to Eat a Reese’s’’ campaign, which promoted Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and the Reese’s brand in general. Hershey sometimes alternated the two campaigns in consecutive issues of magazines such as Reader’s Digest. Advertising Age reported that Hershey spent $86.2 million to advertise its candies in 1998, up from $84.5 million in 1997, with $60.6 million going toward television commercials and $23.3 million going toward print ads. Hershey budgeted an estimated $15 million for ‘‘The Crisp You Can’t Resist!’’ in 1998.


Hershey led the U.S. candy industry in 1997 with sales of $4.3 billion. Its closest rival was Mars, Inc., which owned brands such as M&M’s Chocolate Candies, Snickers, Twix, 3 Musketeers, and Milky Way. In third place was Nestle´ SA, a company based in Switzerland, with brands that included Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, and Crunchbars. The chocolate-covered cookie and wafer category was valued at $155 million that year. Information Resources, Inc., reported that Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cups had sales of $20 million and controlled 12.9 percent of the category. Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cups Halloween Candy generated an additional $7 million in sales. Hershey’s Kit Kat brand had sales of $61 million, and Twix had sales of $49.9 million. For the year ended November 8, 1998, all Reese’s products had sales of $108.9 million; Kit Kat had $60.5 million, and Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar had $9.5 million, according to Brandweek. From mid-August 1997 through mid-August 1998 Twix had sales of $70.5 million in grocery stores, drug stores, and mass merchandise outlets.
Advertising Age reported that Mars spent $67.3 million to advertise its products in 1998. Of that amount, $58.9 million went for television commercials and $7.2 million went for print ads. A large percentage of Mars’ marketing budget was used to promote M&M’s, a popular product that came in two styles—chocolate and chocolate-covered peanuts—with multicolored candy coatings. An M&M’s Crispyline extension was launched late in 1998 with a $40 million advertising campaign. During the first half of 1998 Mars spent $11.9 million to promote another popular brand, Twix chocolatecovered wafer, with the tag line ‘‘Two for me, none for you.’’ The print ads and television commercials revolved around the idea that although Twix was sold in packages of two, the product tasted so good that people were not willing to share it. One commercial showed a man who had just been awarded two expensive vehicles in the brand’s ‘‘Double or Nothing’’ instant-win game. As he wondered what he would do with identical Jeep Wranglers, his companion mused, ‘‘Maybe give one to your best friend.’’ Television commercials in the campaign aired during programs for young people, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Party of Five. Hershey’s other primary rival, Nestle´ promoted its Butterfinger brand with an advertising campaign that starred cartoon characters from the popular television program The Simpsons. Ads for another crunchy candy, Baby Ruth, used the tag line ‘‘This baby gets you going!’’ to position the brand as a source of energy for active people. In 1997 Nestle´ spent about $5 million on advertising to support the launch of White Crunch, a bar of white chocolate with crisped rice and peanut pieces. Nestle´ also introduced four varieties of a new brand, Treasures, which consisted of milk chocolate shells filled with peanut butter, Butterfinger Bits, the crisped rice used in Crunch bars, or caramel. An advertisement in People magazine featured the headline, ‘‘This would read even better if you were curled up with some Nestle´ Treasures.’’ The tag line ‘‘From you to you’’ suggested that Treasures were a good choice for consumers who wanted to indulge themselves.
Another rival, Russell Stover Candies, launched Russell Stover Peanut Butter & Jelly Cups. Sold two to a package or individually wrapped in large bags, the product consisted of round chocolate shells with a peanut butter filling and either grape jelly or raspberry jam. One advertisement featured the tag line ‘‘Gushing with Flavor’’ in type that looked as if it had been written with purple and red jelly. The text said, ‘‘For the first time
ever, Russell Stover combines the world’s most popular flavors: peanut butter, jelly, and milk chocolate.’’ The ad included a coupon that could be redeemed for 50 cents toward the purchase of the product and another coupon that consumers could redeem for a free sample