Hershey’s Kit Kat and Heath Bites Launch
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Holmes Report

Hershey’s Kit Kat and Heath Bites Launch

How do you target an audience of meteorologists with a consumer product that seemingly has no connection to the weather? Find one.

Paul Holmes

How do you target an audience of meteorologists with a consumer product that seemingly has no connection to the weather?  Find one.  That’s what CKPR did when the agency sought to repeat last year’s successful campaign targeting meteorologists with fun winter survival kits that played on York Bites’ cool, minty taste.  This year’s launch of Kit Kat and Heath Bites proved more challenging because the agency had to find a reason to justify reaching out to this media audience with a product that shouted neither winter nor weather.  CKPR created a link by inventing “Snackology” – a new discipline dedicated to the study of snacking.  With a national survey that set out to determine whether Americans ate more chocolate when the temperature dropped, it would be of interest to meteorologists and tie in perfectly with February’s National Snack Food Month.


The competition CKPR faced included the client’s own brands.  The agency was doubly challenged to develop an attention-grabbing national campaign to launch two new Bites products for Hershey Foods, while being conscious not to compete with the timing of existing Hershey Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day publicity and promotional programs.


Following CKPR’s successful launch of York Bites in February 2000, Hershey Foods again asked the agency to develop a news hook and creative theme that would get major market media attention for two new additions to its popular line of unwrapped, bite-sized candies – Kit Kat and Heath Bites.
To drive awareness of the new product, which launched in February 2001, the client provided a budget of $75,000 and set a goal of achieving a consumer awareness level five points higher than the standard new product level at introduction, as measured by Millward Brown, a market research firm.

Our objectives were as follows:
· Drive awareness of new Kit Kat and Heath Bites among men and women, ages 18-49
· Communicate the product’s unique attribute – its “snackability”

CKPR’s brand planning group conducted a Find/SVP search to determine whether any previous research had been conducted that linked snacking or chocolate consumption to weather.  The search netted several articles about snacking at work and how chocolate affects consumers’ moods, but it didn’t appear to produce any competition in the area of snacking and weather, which presented a huge opportunity.

Strategic Approach

With the continued popularity and growth of the Bites line (now totaling seven flavors), the agency sought to emphasize the snackable nature of the product.  CKPR identified the designation of February as National Snack Food Month and aligned the launch with this observance.  To strengthen the communications, the agency commissioned Market Facts to conduct an omnibus survey of 1,000 adults to explore their snacking habits and create news attributable to Hershey.

Because visual coverage of the product was critical to Hershey’s retail sell-in process, it was necessary to reach television media.  But given the Hershey campaigns already planned for other brands, a media group that wasn’t already saturated was needed.  CKPR decided to pursue a relatively untapped media audience and made TV meteorologists at stations in Hershey’s 50 key markets the primary target.  This group was very receptive to the previous year’s York Bites campaign, and the agency hoped to leverage those relationships.  To offer relevant information, several of the survey questions developed by the brand planning team were designed to identify a possible correlation between weather and snacking, as well as the “what,” “when” and “where” of snacking.

The strategy was to blanket print/broadcast media within each of Hershey’s 50 key markets by providing original, newsworthy information that is relevant to their editorial focus and their readers’/viewers’ interests.  The main target within those 50 markets was meteorologists at television network affiliates, followed by radio morning DJ teams and daily newspaper food editors.  Materials were also sent to national broadcast outlets, syndicates and news services, for a total of nearly 350 outlets.

Campaign Excecution

The numerous campaign messages (new product, National Snack Food Month, snacking survey results, and weather tie-in) presented a challenge to develop a creative theme that unified the messages.  The theme also had to be universal in appealing to the variety of media and their journalistic focuses – lifestyle, food and weather. 

CKPR’s creative team developed the “Snackology” campaign theme.  This included inventing a new discipline dedicated to the study of snacking that allowed the agency to strategically create a link to February’s National Snack Food Month.  Like meteorology, biology and even methodology, the “-ology” ending lent a scientific air to the program and an extra boost of credibility to the research results.  A three-dimensional press kit was created to deliver the survey results and encourage recipients to research their own snacking patterns with the help of product samples and fun, tongue-in-cheek premium items.

To cut through the editorial clutter, each target media contact received a Styrofoam chest labeled “Snacking Forecast Enclosed.”  Included in the kits were Kit Kat and Heath Bites samples, a branded candy jar, outdoor thermometer creatively designed for use as a “Snackometer,” two sets of wind-up chattering teeth (signifying the cold weather and the Bites products) and a scarf – all bearing the Kit Kat and Heath Bites logos. 

Each mailer also included a media kit containing a customized pitch letter, lead news release,
“Snacking Forecast” summarizing the survey results, February Weather Fun Facts sheet, product fact sheet, Bites fun facts sheet and a color slide.  A “Snackology” campaign theme was represented through
a custom-developed logo that appeared on all of the premium items and press materials.

A dedicated media relations team followed up with nearly 50 percent of the media outlets that received the kits.  Other supporting media relations tactics included a blast fax radio script, distributed by North American Network to 1,500 stations nationwide, and a PR Newswire release and product photo.

Summary of Results

Consumer awareness for Bites, as measured by Millward Brown, increased by five percentage points (from 11 to 16) over the time CKPR executed the PR program – a noteworthy increase for a new product introduction.

In addition, significant media coverage was achieved, including:
· Hershey’s first infographic in USA Today’s “Snapshots” section, which focused on a key finding from the national omnibus survey.  The graphic detailed how adults describe their snacking habits and credited Hershey Foods as the source
· Local-market coverage of Kit Kat and Heath Bites in key markets, including 14 of the top 20 DMAs
· Unsolicited e-mails from meteorologists thanking us for the package and for giving them fodder – the snacking survey – that allowed them to put a different spin on their weather presentation
· Additional radio promotions and live remotes secured as a result of the blast fax
· More than 27 million audience impressions secured
· Cultivation of relationships with key media, including food editors, producers and television meteorologists that can be drawn upon again for future Hershey public relations campaigns

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