The strategy behind Oh! Henry’s 4:25 bar

A Hershey's marketer explains what led the brand to build a connection with recreational cannabis consumers.

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Oh Henry! has built its brand around being able to satisfy hunger, but a limited time bar has also been looking to satisfy the munchies.

The Oh Henry! 4:25 bar is a limited time offer that combines sweet and salty tastes by being loaded with peanuts and caramel. While slightly smaller than a standard Oh Henry! bar, it also has seven grams of protein (compared to the standard five). As the branding would imply, that makes it the perfect snack for when hunger hits at 4:25 p.m. – five minutes after 4:20.

Oh Henry! first introduced the bar back in April on 4/20 with a pop-up in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood, in partnership with online content creators Epic Meal Time. Following its success – content related to the pop-up generated over 14 million impressions online – the company made it available in stores as a limited time offer. The product’s launch was also accompanied by a full campaign, including social posts and videos, in-store materials and sampling executions at festivals and summer events across Canada.

Jackson Hitchon, senior director of marketing at The Hershey Company, says the pop-up was treated as an initial trial for the 4:25 bar and to gauge the reaction Canadians would have to a brand like Oh Henry! attempting to build an association with cannabis.

“We wanted to make sure we weren’t going out on too much of a limb or into dangerous territory,” Hitchon says. “That shop helped us really understand the right tone and messaging and ensure we were going into the right space with Canadians.”

Anomaly, UM and The Mint Agency worked with Oh Henry! on the campaign.

The idea to associate a product with cannabis culture was actually not the starting point for the 4:25 bar. Within Hershey’s portfolio, Oh Henry! is seen as a bar meant to satisfy hunger, and the company was looking for ways to own that segment of the market and bring its strategy to younger customers.

“It wasn’t about piggybacking on legalization or forcing ourselves into this culture,” Hitchon says. “It was an organic idea that came from our strategy and insights. In brainstorming about what’s important and getting into the insights about younger consumers, we realized there was a real unmet need that happened five minutes after 4:20 quite frequently. We recognized an opportunity to own that space and be relevant with these consumers.”

Hitchon adds that the company then explored the tone of voice that would be relevant within the cannabis space, finding it also had a strong alignment with the brand voice Oh Henry! had already used in the past.

The product began shipping in late June and will be on store shelves until the end of the month, meaning it will not be available to consumers when recreational cannabis is legalized (much of the program was planned before the official legalization date was set). Hitchon says that the company may re-evaluate its activities related to the 4:25 bar next year, but adds that being active with this LTO in the summer months helped the brand capitalize on the cultural conversational around recreational cannabis while it was at its peak.

“The opportunity to be first movers was too big to pass up,” he says. “It’s a hot topic, it’s everywhere in the media and it’s dinner conversation. So the time was absolutely right to make our move into this.”