Nestle drives trial with an assist from the NHL

The company is looking to grab attention for the re-introduction of the Kit Kat Chunky (and cross-promote its other brands).


Nestlé Canada is leaning on its new NHL partnership to drive awareness and trial for its relaunch of Kit Kat Chunky, an SKU that dates back to 1999 and the brand has just made 20% larger.

Displays featuring what is now the NHL’s official chocolate, Kit Kat, along other popular Nestlé brands like Smarties, Coffee Crisp and Aero, are currently available at grocery and convenience and gas retail channels across Canada. The displays feature San Jose Sharks’ Brent Burns, holding up the Chunky bar next to his toothless grin. Burns features heavily in the broader integrated campaign around Chunky, which Nestle worked with Sportsnet to develop.

Part of the team-up includes a “Big Breakaway” contest, playing on its “have a break” messaging, in which fans get a chance to win a 2021 Stanley Cup Finals experience and prize pack. It begins Aug. 1 and runs until the end of the year.

According to Craig Jenkins, ECD at TracyLocke, which developed the in-store activation, Kit Kat is the biggest selling chocolate bar brand in Canada, which makes it beacon at retail to drive sales.

“So when we execute at retail for Nestlé, they typically cross merchandise with their other top three brands or Kit Kat line extensions to encourage trial and incremental purchase,” he says. What to cross merchandise is usually an internal decision at Nestlé – right now, the Kit Kat Chunky relaunch is being prioritized, to reintroduce the larger, non-breaking format to Canadians.

Tracey Cooke, VP of marketing and communication at Nestlé Canada, says display is especially important in the impulsive confectionery category. That’s especially true in the summer and for product extensions that encourage immediate consumption, due to higher traffic in convenience and gas channels.

Being able to leverage a partnership with the NHL adds to pull of displays the “eye-it-before-you-buy-it” category, and Cooke says the goal of these displays is to drive awareness and trial for the re-launch of its hero product Kit Kat Chunky through the NHL-themed campaign. Nestlé Canada is going to continue to explore opportunities for product innovation to be linked with the NHL’s audience of engaged 18- to 34-year-old millienials, such as hockey-themed advent calendars showcasing the new Kit Kat Mini Santa bar. The brand is also looking to promote new innovations in the frozen pizza and ice cream categories too.

“Partnerships that resonate strongly with Canadians, such as the NHL, create many opportunities for our brands, like promotions and giveaways, creating content at marquee NHL events, and launching NHL co-branded products,” she adds. The partnership started this NHL season – Nestlé Canada had plans to launch its programs in March, altered thanks to COVID.