The co-branded bars hit retail shelves on June 1 and are already popular with consumers -- a pre-sale Facebook fan promotion in May sold out in less than 24 hours. But Nestle chose to break its traditional digital- and print-media advertising strategy and use TV to build faster recognition and sales.
"The fact that the bars are only available for a limited time meant we had to drive awareness very quickly," said Cherry Joh, marketing manager at Nestle. The ad campaign, created by Dailey, Los Angeles, will run through August, and bars will be sold through September while supplies last.
The campaign is built around the All-American vibe of both products which was the original motivation for the partnership. Nestle Crunch's red, white, and blue color scheme and heritage as an American candy since the '30s fit with the Girl Scouts' Americana image and sweet tradition of cookie sales, Ms. Joh said. "With two well-loved American brands, we focused [the marketing] on the reactions we experienced in our research which was an irresistibleness," she said. "… People [were] saying, 'Thanks for thinking of this, and putting my two favorite things together.' "
The TV spot features a young Girl Scout in uniform telling the Nestle Crunch employee who has just finished setting up a grocery-store display that he should "probably stand back." She then pulls him out of harm's way as a stampeding crowd descends.
Along with the TV, a Facebook coupon promotion begins today, pitting Nestle Crunch Facebook fans against each other to win a coupon for the purchase of three bars. Two fans will be given a chance to win a coupon that escalates in value. The person who grabs it first wins it, but the longer they wait, the higher the value. It begins at 25 cents off and can go as high as $1.25.
However, along with demand, the bars also have picked up some controversy. Several public health groups claimed that Nestle is targeting children and breaking its promise to not market to them. Nestle denied the claim, pointing out that the marketing has been focused on adults. The media buy for TV includes only adult-oriented cable channels such as TBS, USA, and Bravo. And while the TV ad features the Girl Scout who saves the Nestle Crunch employee, the stampede of customers are all adults.
"We wouldn't have held an auction on Rodeo Drive if we were targeting kids," Ms. Joh said. "And the same way with Facebook, the sale was for adults who had to have a credit card to buy."
She is referring to earlier pre-launch marketing efforts that included a live auction at a Rodeo Drive auction house for three first-line candy bars which eventually sold for $650, and a Facebook promotion that offered early sales of the bars to the 800,000-plus Nestle Crunch fans in May. The bars sold out in less than 24 hours at a rate of one bar every 28 seconds, Ms. Joh said.
Nestle began working with the Girl Scouts two years ago to develop the three bars based on Thin Mint, Samoa (caramel & coconut), and Tagalong (peanut butter creme) cookies. The bars don't include bits of the cookies themselves, but are meant to be the flavors recreated via cookie wafers and creme layers.
A Nestle spokeswoman, and 20-year company veteran, characterized the Girl Scout bars as "the most successful new product launch out of the gate that we've ever had." When asked out of how many, she estimated that Nestle had easily "cleared 100" launches in those two decades.