Hershey sets $30M push

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Hershey Foods will spend upward of $30 million in advertising early next year to support the launch of several extensions of its core brands, including Swoops, a chip-like version of top candy bars, and to introduce Hershey's S'mores.

The extensive advertising push comes as the candy company increases its marketing investment and innovation pipeline on top brands in the hopes of accelerating its top-line growth, according to Tom Hernquist, senior VP-chief marketing officer, Hershey. Hershey's total ad budget will grow in 2004 over 2003 (during the first six months of which it spent $82 million according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR), he said, mainly due to extensive TV efforts beginning in February against Swoops, S'Mores and launches of a White Chocolate Reese's and a new line of Mini Reese's Pieces packaged in flip-top resealable containers.

curvy candy

The launch of Swoops, on shelves this December, will later be backed by an estimated $10 million-plus TV effort from Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, New York. The campaign breaks in early March and will tout the unique curve-shaped slices of solid chocolate in top Hershey's brand flavors-including Reese's peanut butter, Almond Joy coconut and York mint. Swoops, packaged in canisters containing three on-the-go cups containing six slices of chocolate, are intended to capitalize on consumer's need for portability and convenience, Mr. Hernquist said. The target, he said, is adults 18 to 24, whom Hershey will reach through extensive TV as well as displays in the take-home candy aisle.

S'mores, which will roll out Nov. 24, was inspired by the campfire treat with which Hershey chocolate bars are so closely associated. The candy bar, aimed at teens and young adults, features a graham-cracker base with marshmallows covered in Hershey's chocolate. Roughly $10 million in TV advertising, also from DDB, will begin in February featuring a playful take on how the new format differs from consumers' typical s'mores experience.

The success of the White Chocolate Reese's-first sold as a limited edition-has prompted the national launch of the product as a permanent item with TV ads from WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, supporting early next year. Kid-targeted advertising from DDB, primarily on Viacom's Nickelodeon, will back the launch of Mini Reese's Pieces in resealable plastic tubes. Also in development is a similarly portable version of Hershey's Jolly Rancher, tentatively dubbed Jolly Rancher Rocks, which would be packaged in an on-the-go canister to offer more play value for kids.

Hershey will also launch a Citrus Mint Breath Saver variety, the first extension to the brand since acquiring it from Nabisco, as well as a spearmint variety for Ice Breakers gum. Both will be supported with in-store activities focused around the convenience-store channel and in the front-end of grocery and drug retailers, Mr. Hernquist said.

Hershey last month sold its Fruit Stripe, Rain-Blo and Super Bubble gum brands to Farley & Sather Candy Co. in order to focus on its bigger equities.

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