A one-million-dollar insurance policy and TV superheroes all coming together to protect… Butterfinger? Oh, yes, the lengths Nestlé will go to ensure that “Nobody's Gonna Lay A Finger” on your Butterfinger!
Aiming to bring to life the brand’s popular tagline, Nestlé set out to establish a league of expert defenders who could show Butterfinger fans how to protect and defend their favorite candy bar. Comprised of “CHiPs” hero Erik Estrada – a legendary defender against crime, Lou Ferrigno of “The Incredible Hulk” – a proven defender against evil masterminds, and Charisma Carpenter of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – a chic defender against the supernatural, the unlikely trio joined forces to defend Butterfinger bars nationwide from would-be thieves.
The Butterfinger Defense League, or BFDL, proved a very big deal for Nestlé, resulting in a robust improvement in sales, up nearly 10 percent from the previous year. Thanks in part to a multi-phased PR program with a compelling and highly entertaining storyline, the BFDL went from TV icons to viral video sensations within the first weeks of the campaign, and went on to capture the attention of fans at Comic-Con, before its biggest and final challenge, capturing the ultimate Butterfinger thief, later revealed to be the caped crusader himself, Adam West.
With total PR campaign results of nearly half a billion consumer media impressions, the Butterfinger Defense League not only came to the rescue of consumers everywhere, but to Nestlé USA and its re-energized Butterfinger brand.
Challenges and Opportunities
With an 18-34 age demographic, Butterfinger had to effectively reach consumers from both Gen Y and Gen X. Hoping that a celebrity superhero league would resonate well with its target audience, Nestlé challenged GolinHarris to create and execute a major campaign kick-off – a media-worthy story that would establish the need for the Butterfinger Defense League.
Knowing Butterfinger fans also spent a lot of time consuming pop culture online, whether through YouTube or Hulu or Facebook, the brand had an opportunity to create online content that would not only reverberate with its fans but set the online world abuzz for Butterfinger. The brand wanted to attend Comic-Con in San Diego, the pop culture mecca, and in a big way. Lastly, the brand was committed to bringing innovative online entertainment to its fans and needed GolinHarris to create PR-worthy tactics that would land consumers at the doorsteps of these online experiences, courtesy of Butterfinger
Research Planning and Objectives
Research shows the Butterfinger consumer is typically 18-34, male, and loves irreverent humor and pop culture icons. Nostalgia or “retro craze” marketing largely appeals to this demographic, and consumer trends showed that nostalgia marketing was most effective when including online content that was both sharable and entertaining. Drawn to the brand’s irreverent and clever sense of humor, Butterfinger fans have a history of responding strongest to (and engaging with) the brand when it remains authentic and unapologetic. GolinHarris would be able to help Butterfinger increase awareness and engagement, thus positively impacting sales, if it achieved the following PR objectives:
1) Develop a media-worthy campaign kick-off that would establish the need for a Butterfinger Defense League,
2) Introduce the Defense League in an attention-grabbing way that strongly resonates with Butterfinger fans,
3) Help bring Butterfinger back to Comic-Con in a more meaningful, impactful way than sampling, and
4) Sustain engagement with Butterfinger and interest its new Defense League in the second half of the campaign.
To set up the BFDL, GolinHarris devised a “Bar Insurance” program whereby consumers could request a free replacement Butterfinger bar if anyone laid a finger on theirs. To qualify for Bar Insurance, one simply would “file a claim” online for a replacement bar, thereby demonstrating that a Butterfinger had been lost or stolen. To further legitimize Bar Insurance, GolinHarris approached the esteemed Lloyd's of London to sell a bonafide $1 million insurance policy to Butterfinger that guaranteed Nestlé would never cease production of the beloved candy bar. Not only did a partnership with Lloyd’s of London establish a legitimate story angle, but Lloyd's had a history of working with unusual policies and personalities, thus attracting media attention.
After establishing the need for the league through Bar Insurance, GolinHarris would prove the BFDL was indeed a very big deal by creating the league’s very own theme song. What better introduction of a superhero league than an attention-grabbing music video! Joining forces with another pop culture icon, GolinHarris brought into the mix 90s rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot. His hit song “Baby Got Back/I Like Big Butts” would be remixed into the heroes’ anthem as “Baby Got It Back/ I Like Big Butterfingers” thus boldly setting the stage for the BFDL.
Next, to help bring the league to Comic-Con and to the masses, GolinHarris would democratize the BFDL by adding a fourth member – a consumer – who would be unveiled at the annual pop culture convention. Through a partnership with G4 Network, whose audience matched the Butterfinger demographic, the BFDL would make an exclusive appearance at Comic-Con to meet fans and also introduce an innovative graphic novel starring the league. Lastly, to breathe new life into the campaign and add excitement to the BFDL during its last days, GolinHarris would introduce “Butterfinger’s Most Wanted” – the ultimate Butterfinger thief who would present the league with its biggest and final defense challenge
• On April 1st, GolinHarris played with the day of pranks and announced Butterfinger Bar Insurance and the brand’s $1 million insurance policy through Lloyd's of London, with a viral video featuring a bona fide Nestlé executive simply known as "The Suit." In conjunction with the announcement, media received a copy of the Lloyd's insurance policy and a "protected" Butterfinger bar wrapped in chains and sealed in an unbreakable tube.
• Following Bar Insurance, a parody music video appeared online, starring Sir Mix-A-Lot with the Butterfinger Defense League dancing to "I Like Big Butterfingers,” kicking off a storm of media calls and coverage, including a weeklong NYC media tour with Erik, Lou and Charisma.
• Once established, the BFDL next appeared on G4’s “Attack of the Show” to announce its search for a fourth member. Aspiring league members submitted videos to G4, and two semi-finalists would meet the league at Comic-Con to battle it out live for the exclusive membership.
• Ripe for Comic-Con, the BFDL also debuted its interactive graphic novel, delivering to fans more innovative online entertainment by Butterfinger.
• After using Comic-Con to build a legion of fans for the BFDL, GolinHarris then introduced a final character to the storyline, “Butterfinger’s Most Wanted,” bringing a new face to the campaign. A viral video was released following Comic-Con showing an unknown Butterfinger thief. To learn his identity, consumers went to Butterfinger’s Facebook page, where they unmasked Adam West and discovered a new interactive online game to enjoy courtesy of Butterfinger.
Lastly, GolinHarris announced the capture of West as the ultimate Butterfinger thief, offering media a new celebrity storyline and more importantly, closure for the Butterfinger Defense League story
Summary of Results
• Within 24 hours of announcing Butterfinger Bar Insurance, consumers claimed all 100,000 replacement bars and reported more than 20,000 stories of bar thefts online. Bar Insurance caused the Butterfinger Facebook fan page to gain 12,000 fans in one day, the highest in a single day, and resulted in more than 2,000 tweets.
• After proving the nationwide epidemic of bar thefts, GolinHarris saw the BFDL/Sir Mix music video “I Like Big Butterfingers” became a bonafide YouTube sensation, reaching #3 on Advertising Age’s video charts
• “Entertainment Tonight” ran exclusive coverage of the music video, and media outlets including “The Today Show”, “FOX & Friends,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Entertainment Weekly, The New York Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and People magazine all fell in love with the beloved defenders, resulting in unprecedented media coverage for the brand following a NYC media tour.
• The BFDL’s search for a fourth member resulted in more than 200 videos submitted to G4’s “Attack of the Show” contest, and John Michalec, “The Butterfinger Artist” was introduced at Comic-Con as the lucky consumer to officially join the league. Critical acclaim and enthusiasm met the defense league’s innovative graphic novel with its debut at Comic-Con, resulting in even more media coverage for the league by both consumer and comic-trade media.
• Following Comic-Con, more than 5.2 millions impressions resulted from consumers interacting with the graphic novel game.
• Finally, the unmasking of Adam West as the “ultimate Butterfinger thief,” resulted in a behind-the-scenes exclusive by Extra TV and a successful L.A. media tour for the league and its most wanted criminal. Another 370,370 flocked to Butterfinger’s Facebook page to play the brand’s new tower-defense game, “The Good, The Bad and The Candy” more than 6,307,107 times.
• In total, the five-phased campaign generated a whopping 440 million consumer media impressions for Butterfinger, and the brand experienced a sales increase of nearly 10 percent during the campaign period. The PR results exceeded the brand’s benchmark impression goals by 219 percent and its stretch goals by 155 percent, with all coverage 100 percent on message. (Note, no multipliers were used in measurement, and all impressions were measured by quality of coverage secured.)