In the U.S., Kinder is most-associated with Kinder Surprise, the hollow chocolate eggs containing small toys that were banned in the States for being a choking hazard. Last year, the confectionary brand brought back safer eggs with the launch of Kinder Joy. Now, the Ferrero-owned brand is launching its Italian-made Kinder Bueno bars in the U.S., and began its marketing with a decidedly adult approach.
“We launched with the eggs last year and it was a huge success. It was almost a $200 million business in the US,” says Noah Szporn, VP of marketing at Kinder North America. “That product really targets moms with kids. The next step logically for us is to give something to the adults to enjoy.”
On November 8 and 9, the brand hosted a “Sweeteasy” pop-up experience in New York on Manhattan's west side. Sweeteasy, a sugary spin-off of a traditional 1920s speakeasy, was designed to introduce American adults to every layer of the candy bar through a four-room activation that played to the senses.
The free two-night pop-up experience was fully booked before it even began. Kinder promoted the event on social and chocolate-lovers and foodies made reservations online.
Ad Age got a preview of the activation from Andrew Allen, VP and group creative director of experience at Omnicom's Alcone, the agency behind the Sweeteasy experience. Kinder and Alcone also worked with Brooklyn-based design and production agency John Creech.
“For us, being new to the States, we wanted people to try it. We wanted people to try it in every single part of the experience,” says Allen. “We built the experience really around creating a heightened taste experience that felt adult and premium. That guided everything.”
Before visitors entered the activation, the strategy was to throw them off with a completely stark white room containing nothing but two couches and a white sheet hiding a corner. After a few minutes, an attendant would come around and direct people behind the curtain to where a giant Bueno bar sat. One end of the candy bar opened to reveal a slide. Visitors shot down the giant, dark slide into a 1920s-themed speakeasy bar. Bartenders, wearing bowler hats and bow ties, welcomed guests with Bueno bars and walked people through a chocolate and hazelnut cocktail. The trick: More milk than chocolate.
In the same room, Kinder hired palm readers to predict guests’ futures; only, instead of reading palms, they read chocolate sauce. The chocolate readers had guests take a bite of a Bueno bar, think deeply about what they were curious of, pour chocolate fudge onto a blank piece of paper and fold the paper until the chocolate almost seeped out. Beyond the bar and the fortune tellers was a stage where a band played old-school jazz songs. An empty table sat in front with a sign reading “Reserved for you” and a cigarette tray of Bueno bars.
Guests pushed through a secret door to enter the next room, one dedicated to the wafer layer. In one corner of the room was a pool of soft wafer-shaped pillows and a wafer swing set up for Instagram Boomerangs. On another side, bartenders crafted cornetos, an espresso and hazelnut drink topped with edible sugar glass. Honey-flavored bubbles floated down from the ceiling.
The next room was dedicated to the hazelnut cream layer. The room featured sunset-colored walls and Italian hazelnut trees to resemble the landscape in Italy where the hazelnuts are grown. In the same room, visitors were given spoons and marble slats to deconstruct their Bueno bars and discover how they were created. Waiters brought around mocktails as Italian music filled the room.
The final room held a wooden stand decorated like a stack of Kinder Bueno bars where people could take their final photos before receiving a box of chocolate bars for the road.
"We wanted to make sure we used all senses," says Allen. "We got this amazing candy bar, it has this awesome flavor. How do we compliment that with your nose, with sight, with sound, to really help you accentuate and understand the flavors of the bar?"