LifeSavers' Creme Savers, combination fruit and real cream candies, came flying out of the gate when it was launched in January 1999. Four weeks later, LifeSavers was forced to pull its advertising because the marketer could not keep up with the demand for the Strawberry & Cream and Orange & Cream hard candies.
"This is probably the greatest brand consumers haven't really heard of," says Reg Hamlett, 33, who started as assistant brand manager on Creme Savers in September 1997. He is now senior brand manager of new business and strategy for LifeSavers.
With virtually only word of mouth to support it, Creme Savers has grown to $68 million in sales, becoming the No. 2 hard candy behind LifeSavers, recently eclipsing even Hershey's long-popular Jolly Rancher brand.
The success is due in large part to research and development that allowed LifeSavers to create a new hybrid segment distinct from the more typical fruit or dairy-based candies out there, Mr. Hamlett says.
Scientist "Ken Klacik is the brainchild behind this product, which turned a me-too concept into something that has brought new users into the category from all different segments," he says.
But Mr. Hamlett spearheaded the marketing end, and helped finalize the concept that he admits has been an "unqualified home run." From his experience at Tambrands, where he helped develop the innovative Tampax multipack of various sizes, he recognizes that new products "are about identifying a consumer need and putting together attributes that provide a benefit."
Going forward, LifeSavers is relaunching the original Creme Savers' TV advertising and new print from FCB Worldwide, New York, that it hopes will take the brand even further, making it a mega-equity on par with its core LifeSavers brand.