S’mores are more than just the quintessential summertime treat. In 2010, The Hershey Company challenged JSH&A to take S’mores beyond the campfire and inspired moms to create S’mores memories every day. JSH&A answered this challenge with a strategic online campaign designed to encourage moms to think “out of the box” and beyond the campgrounds with help from some of the most influential moms around – mom bloggers. The campaign centered on a partnership with the BlogHer conference to bring to life the ultimate S’mores experience for mom bloggers attending the conference. A suite located in the convention hotel was completely branded and transformed to become the S’mores “home.” The “S’mores Snacktivity Suite” featured a cozy living room and kitchen with a door leading out to a picket-fenced backyard complete with a grill and campfire. In the weeks and months leading up to the conference, invitations were extended to top bloggers to visit the S’mores suite. The suite provided a location for one-on-one meetings with Hershey representatives and bloggers to talk about S’mores usage occasions and preparation tips, and also tease National S’mores Day. The fun, interactive S’mores suite invited bloggers to experience all the unique and simple ways S’mores can be enjoyed, driving the “everyday” purchase message. Word-of-mouth buzz, more than 380 blogger tweets and 170 blog postings surrounding the “S’mores Snacktivity Suite” drove awareness and inspired moms to create everyday S’mores memories.
CHALLENGE / OPPORTUNITY:
• The BlogHer conference provided a strategic opportunity to reach a large number of influential mom bloggers with the Hershey’s S’mores message; however, many companies
participate in BlogHer. The S’mores experience needed to be unique and engaging to break through the crowded environment and become a “must do” activity.
• Sponsorship costs to host a booth on the expo hall floor of the conference were outside of the allocated budget. JSH&A elected to leverage the more cost effective suite sponsorship to reach the target audience.
• Sponsoring a space away from the expo hall floor of the conference presented the challenge of informing and driving conference attendees to the S’mores suite located 42 floors away from the seminars and action. At the conference, JSH&A distributed flyers and propped-up sandwich boards and signage to communicate the invitation for everyone to visit the delicious S’mores suite.
RESEARCH / PLANNING:
The Hershey Company conducted research that indicated the target demographic for S’mores was women/moms who read and share news online, creating the opportunity to reach out to the demographic through social media. JSH&A conducted additional research to determine the best methods of reaching moms online and found that:
• Six out of 10 women spend at least two hours online daily
• Women are nearly twice as likely to use blogs rather than social networking sites as a source of information (64%), advice and recommendations (43%) and opinion-sharing (55%). The study also found that women online are now more than ever before spending less time engaging in traditional media activities like watching TV (30%), listening to the radio (31%), and reading magazines (36%) or the newspaper (39%). (2009 BlogHer Study)
• The BlogHer conference attracts more than 2,000 women eager to connect with other bloggers and anxious to know about companies relevant to their lives.
Based on this knowledge, JSH&A formed a strategic partnership with the BlogHer conference to create an “only at Hershey’s” iconic experience starring the brand in a fun, unexpected environment that kept the conference buzzing.
The tactic and outreach was about generating enthusiastic tweets and blog posts heard throughout the convention hall and far into cyberspace.
• Generate awareness and encourage purchase of classic S’mores ingredients
• Showcase Hershey’s connection to summertime memories
• Form strong relationships with bloggers
Suite Design and Development
The execution of the sponsored S’mores suite at BlogHer began with months of preparation. Designs were developed to completely brand and decorate the suite to become an inviting indoor/outdoor home where your best friend might live. Props and furniture were sourced to create realistic environments that not only provided bloggers a comfortable space to cook S’mores with charming S’mores makers in different settings, but also to bring bloggers together in a shared experience with a cozy fireplace setting that would spark conversation and interaction. The S’mores suite featured a living room and a S’mores kitchen with a door leading out to the backyard “patio” complete with a grill and campfire. The floor of the suburban backyard was covered with faux grass and the ceiling featured a graphic of a blue sky with clouds. The S’mores living room and kitchen were all completely built and constructed from inside the hotel suite, a “room within a room,” creating a brand new space.
Inviting Bloggers and Promoting the S’mores Suite
To spread news about the planned S’mores suite before the conference, and to drive traffic to the space when bloggers arrived at BlogHer, JSH&A distributed an HTML invitation and collected RSVPs from bloggers before the event. Bloggers were also provided “Everyday S’mores Moments” kits so moms could enjoy S’mores with their kids prior to leaving for BlogHer. Additionally, Hershey’s provided a Washington D.C. group of 29 mom bloggers with their train trip to BlogHer with S’mores tweets and blog posts taking place throughout the ride – coming and going.
JSH&A also recommended sponsoring a booth at the “Dinner’s on Us” event the evening prior to the kick-off of the BlogHer conference, where 100 top mom bloggers had the opportunity to preview the S’mores-making activities. Sponsoring the event gave the JSH&A team and additional opportunity to network with key bloggers. These women helped spread the word to other BlogHer attendees about the sponsored suite and drove additional traffic.
Announcing an ultimate grand prize random drawing with a fish bowl collecting business cards, lured bloggers to visit the suite and provided a conservative way to monitor and track daily attendance. Blog, twitter and e-mail contact information was simultaneously collected and was used to follow-up with the bloggers after the event. The ultimate grand prize included a backyard fire pit and additional S’mores skewers sets.
Driving Online Conversation
JSH&A captured the bloggers’ excitement and anticipation for the S’mores suite at BlogHer through their blog posts and tweets with a S’mores hashtag created for Twitter users during the conference. The D.C. mom bloggers, who enjoyed sponsored travel to the conference, kept the #Smores chatter alive by prompting hundreds of #Smores tweets from conference attendees.
For lasting S’mores memories, JSH&A hired a photographer to capture personal photos in the Snacktivity Suite. Snacktivity guests received the photographer’s private photo website URL to show bloggers access their S’mores pictures and for easy upload to their Twitter feeds and blogs throughout the conference. Top BlogHer influentials reported that engaging in a product “experience” such as S’mores’ home suite was more meaningful than just receiving “freebies.”
• Total Program Reach: 2,071,698 media impressions
• Coverage highlights included posts from: A Girl Must Shop, Roadtrips for Families, Everything Mom, Nicole’s Nickels, Biz Bash, Picky Palate and App Scout, among others.
• 2,400 bloggers attended the 2010 conference, and one in every four attendees visited the S’mores suite and resulting in more than 170 positive blog posts about S’mores and the unique experience at the suite.
• Bloggers told the on-site JSH&A team and tweeted online that the S’mores suite was the talk of the conference and that it was their favorite of all the sponsored suites.
• More than 380 uses of the S’mores hashtag were recorded, and the collective Twitter following of the users who included the hashtag was 1.4 million.
• The social media monitoring platform Radian 6 showed online S’mores coverage had a dramatic spike surrounding BlogHer.