Charlie Chappell didn’t need to go far to research the popularity of Twitch, where people watch live streams of other people playing video games. While Chappell says he’s no longer much of a gamer himself, his 12- and 17-year-old sons helped confirm the platform’s popularity, especially among younger consumers.
“I did need a bit of an education at first,” says Chappell, the head of integrated media and communications at Hershey.
Chappell says he and his team became interested in Twitch a few years ago as they began to notice it was one place in the ever-changing digital landscape where plenty of consumers were spending their time. Like other marketers, Hershey is looking for ways to expand well beyond traditional media buys to capture the attention of consumers, particularly younger ones who are aren't tuning in to traditional TV and other marketing mainstays.
“We were starting to see there was this particularly younger group of consumers that were getting hard to reach with traditional media,” Chappell says on the latest episode of Ad Age’s "Marketer’s Brief" podcast.
Chappell says marketers need to realize the broad group of consumers interested in gaming.
“I always say, this is not your stereotypical 24-year-old who can’t get a job and still lives in their parents’ basement. It is not that at all,” says Chappell.
He also says a lot of marketers are a bit overwhelmed by the different ways to play in the esports space. Hershey started with a basic media buy to get its brands on Twitch, then expanded its partnership. Hershey works with its media agency UM as its looking at new places to invest. The team also headed to Los Angeles to meet people in the esports space and began working with Ader, which helped connect the company with Ninja and DrLupo.
“We made sure that we were very actively involved,” says Chappell, adding that he’s learned “you have to dig in and get to understand it yourself.”
At TwitchCon 2018, people waited in a line stretching down a hallway to meet Twitch stars Ninja and DrLupo, and to snag a new candy bar, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Reese’s Pieces, at Hershey’s booth. Plenty of them shared their images from the event on social media, plus there were people watching streams from the convention.
“The response was unbelievable,” says Chappell.
Under a deal announced in late May, Hershey now has deals with streamers on Twitch, including DrLupo and TimTheTatman, who each have well more than 3 million followers, as well as DrLupo’s wife, who goes by MrsDrLupo on the platform. Hershey also plans to promote the KitKat brand during a rivals weekend event for the Overwatch team LA Valiant. And it will head to TwitchCon North America this year. The plan gives Hershey, which competes against Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Ferrara Candy Co., Mondelez International and plenty of others, a way to reach consumers where they are already spending plenty of time (and money).
While Chappell didn’t disclose how much Hershey is spending on Twitch, he does say “we’re not just dabbing our toes in the water."
He suggests brands should be “constantly experimenting in this space,” adjusting when necessary and moving money to the things that are working.
Twitch is far from the only digital space where Hershey is spending more. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit and Imgur reach millions. And Chappell, like others, is keeping a close eye on TikTok, the app for short-form mobile videos.
“I think it’s going to be fascinating to watch how consumers evolve their social media habits. We’re going to have to figure out how to play on the platforms that they go to and see if it makes sense,” says Chappell.
What will Chappell be snacking on as he watches all of this unfold? Likely a Take 5 bar, which is his favorite Hershey product. The bar is getting a packaging makeover that puts it under the Reese’s brand in a nod to the peanut butter in the product. Hershey isn’t changing the bar itself, which includes pretzels, caramel, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate. The new packaging was shown at the candy industry’s Sweets & Snacks Expo in May. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time until a streamer mentions the bars on Twitch.