Two classic American candy bars are getting some new marketing love from Mars. Milky Way on Monday will debut its first significant TV ad campaign in about five years, while 3 Musketeers has launched digital ads that mark its first substantial campaign in about 10 years.
The two iconic brands -- which both launched in the early 20th Century -- have for years been overshadowed by the candy giant's crown jewels, Snickers and M&Ms, at least when it comes to ad spending. While that won't change, Mars is making incremental investments in the two smaller brands to raise awareness with a new generation of consumers.
"These are beloved brands that consumers grew up with, but they tend to forget about them," said Allison Miazga-Bedrick, who is Mars' director for "filled bars," which includes Snickers, Milky Way and 3 Musketeers. The new investments are meant to keep Milky Way and 3 Musketeers relevant, especially with millennials, she added.
In terms of dollars, Milky Way will get the biggest push by returning to TV. The campaign by DDB, Chicago extends a print and digital effort called "Sorry I Was Eating a Milky Way" that was launched in 2012. TV spots show workers such as hair stylists and tattoo artists getting distracted because they are engrossed in eating the candy bar.
Milky Way -- which launched in 1923 as Mars' first candy bar -- got $31 million in U.S. measured media support last year, according to Kantar Media. That compared with $133 million for M&Ms and $120 million for Snickers. Ms. Miazga-Bedrick declined to reveal Milky Way's exact 2015 spending plans but said it would represent a "step change."
The print and digital campaign appeared to produce positive results. Milky Way's U.S. sales grew from $291 million in 2012 to $309 million last year, according to Euromonitor International. Some of the increase is likely due to the launch of the smaller-sized Milky Way bites line extension in May of 2013.
The 3 Musketeers brand has gotten even less ad attention than Milky Way with just over $5 million in measured media spending last year, according to Kantar. U.S. sales fell to $139 million last year from $156 million the year prior, according to Euromonitor.
The new digital effort will get paid support. Videos by DDB mark a return of the 3 Musketeer characters who have not appeared in ads since 2003. Ads go for laughs by answering the question: "Why 3?"
The real answer for "3" is that the bar was originally named for the three flavors that were once packaged together: chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. The brand -- which launched in 1932 -- consolidated into one chocolate flavor in 1945 as a result of wartime rationing, according to Mars.
Has the company considered bringing back the old flavors? "It is in conversation," Ms. Miazga-Bedrick said. "But there's nothing planned for this year."