The success of Reese's Crunchy Cookie Cups, a $27 million line extension to an already huge $350 million peanut-butter cup franchise, has landed Ms. Rhyne, 42, director-new products at Hershey Chocolate USA, back in the spotlight.
Reese's Crunchy Cookie Cups is the latest in a string of major new product notches on her belt in recent years, ranging from Hershey's Hugs to Sweet Escapes, the product that won her a place in last year's Marketing 100.
Cups represents Hershey's strategy of moving existing brands from successful to blockbuster status with innovative line extensions. The yellow-packaged Crunchy Cookie Cups was only one of Hershey's first steps in proving there's more than one way to eat a Reese's-in late '97 the company launched Reesesticks and later this year will come a line extension of a line extension, Reese's Crunchy Cookie Cups Minis.
Ms. Rhyne kickstarted the process with a $10 million TV and print ad campaign via Ogilvy & Mather, New York, and a huge sampling and couponing program for Reese's Crunchy Cookie Cups that included in the initial distribution of 50 million coupons.
For the 52 weeks ended Dec. 28, 1997, Reese's Crunchy Cookie Cups netted $20 milion in sales and a 12.9% share of the $155 million chocolate covered cookie/wafter brands category, according to Information Resources Inc. That's compared to a 6.4% decline for Hershey's $61 million Kit Kat brand and a 5.8% drop to $49.9 million for rival M&M/Mars' Twix. And the line extension chalked up another $7 million in sales for a holiday-themed version, Reese's Crunchy Cookie Cups Halloween Candy.