Hershey goes grassroots to activate its NBA partnership

Circle K takeovers and contesting are part of a donate-with-purchase push to build and upgrade basketball courts for youth.

hershey-shopper-mainIt’s being billed as platform designed to make basketball more accessible for the next generation of ballers in Canada.

As part of a three-year collaboration between Hershey and NBA Canada, the chocolate brand is extending its “Sweeter Together” platform by supporting grassroots basketball programs for The Boys and Girls Club of Canada.

Hershey, Reese’s and Oh Henry! is targeting a maximum donation of $300,000, which will go towards things like building new courts, upgrading existing facilities in Vancouver and Toronto, and providing gear to kids who need it. That will include 500 team kits, including uniforms, Spalding basketballs and Sportchek gift cards to cover the purchase of sneakers.

The message is being partly driven by an in-store component that includes a displays and takeovers of Circle K and Couche-Tard stores, something Hershey’s has had success with in the past. For shoppers that need an extra push to participate, they can also upload their receipt to the campaign website for a chance to win thousands of NBA prizes.

For extra engagement, that website also lets participants pick one of three hero SKUs – Cookies n’ Creme, Oh Henry! Level Up bars, or Reese’s Pieces bars – and instantly see a basketball court decorated to match the bar’s colour scheme.

The multi-year partnership, which named Hershey as the official chocolate of NBA Canada, began in January and runs until December 2023. It’s not a one-off, says Jorge Rivera, Hershey Canada’s shopper marketing manager, but the first step in a three-year community commitment to basketball.

“The purpose is to bring basketball goodness and to democratize basketball across the country,” he says. While a court and basketball can be easy to find, he adds that things like sneaker culture have made that basics of basketball inaccessible to many Canadian youth.

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“Buy a bar, build a court,” is the to-the-point messaging that graces the shopper marketing assets, along with very prominent “win” callouts for NBA Store e-gift card prizes. The materials also call out the Cookies n’ Creme bar most directly, the brand’s latest SKU.

The “Sweeter Together” messaging will be amplified by ads on Instagram, Facebook and SEM. There’s an influencer component too, leaning into NBA fans, chocolate and candy lovers, as well as groups that over-index when it comes to contest participation and cause-minded shopping. Mosaic is the lead agency for the integrated program, handling all elements.