Case Study: Bonafide's Billiken brand bulks up in lean times by listening to children

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[buenos aires, argentina] Confectionery-industry sales in Argentina fell 18% between 2000 and 2002 while local confectioner Bonafide's sales jumped 37%. The strategy: Let kids create the candy.

The integrated-marketing campaign was developed with Havas' CraveroLanis Euro RSCG, Buenos Aires, to turn Bonafide's Billiken into a hip brand. Billiken, with annual sales of about $4.8 million, had lost ground to Argentina's Arcor, with a 60% share of the candy market, and faced competition from global giants Nestle and Cadbury Schweppes.

Bonafide and CraveroLanis developed a plan inspired by "Big," the 1988 film about a kid who turns into a 35-year-old man and boosts a toymaker's sales by creating what he and his friends want. After meeting monthly with four groups of eight kids, a 2001 ad campaign emerged with the tagline "Be a part of the dream. You create the candy, Billiken makes it for you." In one spot, a boy tries to decide between bubble gum or chocolate. Why not a chocolate covered bubble-gum cookie?

The commercials directed kids to a Web site to create candies and later vote for favorites. In two months, 80,000 visits were registered. Bonafide has received 17,200 proposals and puts out a new product every two to three months.

"While some of the kids' ideas may not be viable, they give us a better understanding of what kids are thinking and want," said CraveroLanis VP Gabriel Maloneay. The concept will drive the Billiken brand for the next five to seven years, said Juan Greco, Bonafide Golosinas' marketing manager.

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