Marketing 50

Ice Breakers

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Brandon Solano's recent promotion to marketing director of Hershey's No. 1 brand, Reese's, is no accident. In the two and a half years that Mr. Solano, 35, worked on building Hershey's Ice Breakers mint brand, the franchise has gone from double-digit sales declines to incredible double-digit sales gains that place it ahead of Tic Tacs and gaining fast on Altoids.

With a resume that includes Procter & Gamble Co.'s Sunny Delight brand and Kellogg Co.'s online loyalty program, Eet and Ern, Mr. Solano joined Hershey in 2002 to help drive the Peter Paul candy bar brands, Almond Joy and Mounds, which he did with a new tropical positioning. He moved quickly onto Ice Breakers to ramp up sales for the brand, which was holding steady despite rocketing success of other breath-freshening brands. And he did. Not a year after Mr. Solano became brand manager in March of 2003, Ice Breakers launched its innovative Liquid Ice liquid-filled mints with a full-scale advertising, PR and tour sponsorship centered on pop star Jessica Simpson. Mr. Solano kept pushing, introducing dual-pack Ice Breakers gum and mints in 2004, then added new Liquid Ice flavors and Sours. He signed celeb sisters Hilary and Hailey Duff as brand spokeswomen. "Breath fresheners are fashionable products because when you pull one out and offer it, it's a reflection of you," Mr. Solano says about his decision to use trendy celebs to build relevance for the brand.

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