Why Hershey’s Launched One of Its Biggest Products With a Digital-First Approach

And used social creative to generate buzz

Hershey's used Live and looping video to launch a new candy bar. Facebook: HERSHEY'S
Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Hershey’s—a more than 120-year-old brand—is trying to think faster and be more efficient when it comes to advertising.

Last December, Hershey’s created a candy bar called Cookie Layer Crunch, and by using a quick distribution strategy, Hershey rolled out the snack nationally to retailers and stores within days. To reach millions of consumers at once, the brand worked with Facebook to create three different types of content and creative that was then used in other social posts.

“Given digital’s ability to be very quick, we decided to leverage Facebook as a platform because it’s a platform where you get that reach that you’re seeking but you can also be hyper targeted at the same time,” said Ari Ben-Canaan, senior manager of global advertising services at Hershey. “TV production lead times are typically very long and involved whereas digital can be a little bit more agile and you don’t have to be so precious about all the editing schedules and the effects. Digital is an ephemeral environment where people are consuming content and moving on so we’re able to produce something that was really quick, high quality [and] built for an environment where we knew viewers were going to consume it and then probably go on to their social feeds.”

Hershey’s launched the candy bar on Dec. 4, which is National Cookie Day. One week before the launch, Hershey’s created a 20-second teaser video of a poster that looked like it was a 3D image coming out of the screen promoting its “latest and greatest innovation”—much like a tech launch from Google or Apple.

“We wanted to do something in our space like-minded,” Ben-Canaan explained. “We wanted to get people excited by dropping hints about what this was going to be.”

Then on Dec. 4, the brand used Facebook Live to stream from its Times Square store in an 11-minute clip that included produced segments from a mock product launch event. During the scene with the mock product launch, Hershey’s created videos and images that showed the candy bar floating and spinning in different directions to show all of its features.

Afterwards, those assets were used to create posts promoting three flavors targeting folks who watched the first set of videos.

Hershey’s then looked at favorability, brand awareness and ad recall with a Nielsen Brand study that included a sample size of roughly 500. According to Facebook, the campaign lifted favorability by 5 points, brand awareness by 11 points and ad recall by 20 points.

“It wasn’t just, ‘Hey, let’s produce something for December 4 and then be done with it. We were able to stretch the investment really effectively,’” Ben-Canaan said.

@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.