Why Hershey Is Shifting to Masterbrand Approach

Chocolate Brand Unites All Products Under One Campaign

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For years Hershey has advertised its products separately -- from syrup to bars -- with advertising that rarely told stories and instead focused on what's inside the wrappers. But starting next week, the brand is making a major strategic shift with a new campaign that unites all Hershey branded treats under one campaign, while seeking to inject more emotion into ads.

The effort, called "Hello Happy. Hello Hershey's," begins Monday with an ad by Arnold called "My Dad." The spot -- an extended version is above -- chronicles how a young girl seeks to get some time with her dad, who is busy all day working from home. The ad ends with the two of them making s'mores in the kitchen using Hershey's Syrup and bars. The new tagline is accompanied by the shape of a heart spelled out with the brand's syrup, bar and spread. The soundtrack is a remake of Steve Winwood's "Higher Love," sung by Mr. Winwood and his daughter, Lilly.

"What we've heard from consumers is that they see one brand Hershey," said Melinda Lewis, senior director of the Hershey brand franchise. So the new campaign is "leveraging the power of Hershey as a mega franchise."

The shift to a masterbrand campaign follows similar moves by other big packaged goods brands to merge their multiple products into one campaign. That includes Coke, which launched a global "one-brand" strategy last month with the new "Taste the Feeling" campaign. The masterbrand approach has the added benefit of efficiency, since creating and running one campaign instead of multiple campaigns is typically cheaper.

But while Coke moved to more product-focused ads -- albeit backed by stories of simple pleasures -- Hershey is moving away from ads in which its products are the only star.

Hershey's challenge is not creating awareness, it is "building meaning and relevance," Ms. Lewis said. So the ads seek to link the products with consumer memories like stirring up a glass of chocolate milk with grandma. Consumer research taught Hershey that its products were a "spark to this whole massive world of amazing memories. For us it was a natural evolution," said Stacie Stauffer, senior manager of the Hershey brand.

Hershey took the extra step of merging its multiple social media channels for each brand into one Hershey master account on Twitter and Facebook.

In Coke's case, the brand moved away from its "Open Happiness" campaign in part because executives felt the word "happiness" was overused in pop culture.

"Everything is about happiness -- there are so many books about happiness, there's Pharrell's 'Happy'. Happiness is an overutilized word in current, contemporary culture," Rodolfo Echeverria, Coca-Cola Co.'s global VP for creative, connections and digital, recently told Marketing magazine in the U.K.

But Hershey -- whose new tagline puts an emphasis on "happy" -- does not share that fear.

"Many brands can talk about happiness. But for us we feel like chocolate especially, and especially iconic Hershey, has more permission to do so," said Tim Flood , executive creative director for Arnold New York, which works on Hershey. He joined the agency late last year from Translation. The new campaign wants to tug on consumer heartstrings, he said. "But we also want them to be real and universal truths that everyone can relate to," he added. "They are emotional stories that wind up drawing you in."

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