Reese’s drives brand love without showing a single Peanut Butter Cup

The Hershey brand wants to stay at the forefront of category growth by focusing on the kind of shared experiences that drive affinity.

Reeses_OOHBoardReese’s Peanut Butter Cups is trying to prove people will be able to recognize a treat they know and love, even if there’s not a lot of actual chocolate to be seen.

A new out-of-home and social campaign doesn’t show the cups themselves, but rather the highly recognizable wrapper that comes around each one. More specifically, it’s focused on the tiny leftover chocolate and peanut butter that gets stuck to it.

In Toronto, a giant candy wrapper billboard graces the Gardiner Expressway until December, with the broader campaign also featuring online video and social content on Snapchat and TikTok that shows someone making sure they don’t leave any bit of their peanut butter cup behind.

According to Reese’s marketing manager Azim Akhtar, some consumers feel like the leftover on the wrapper is a wasted product, while others are happy to lick or peel it off. While most of the campaign is encouraging consumers to not leave anything behind, the idea of choosing is being extended with a social campaign on Facebook and Instagram based around the theme “Clean or Sticky: How do you uncup?”


Akhtar tells strategy that overall, the brand wanted to inspire a healthy debate online around preferences to drive affinity and engagement. According to Akhtar, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have been on a path of accelerated growth, even prior to the comfort eating spike seen during the pandemic. But with “the whole category seeing an uptick,” he says, zeroing in on shared experiences that anyone can recognize is an effective way to stand out from the pack.

The brand positioning for Reese’s overall, Akhtar says, is around “finding your happy place,” and that previous messaging was centred around other ritualistic aspects of enjoying the treat, highlighted in an ASMR video.

But the inspiration for the campaign, created by agency partner Anomaly, came from an unlikely source – the back of LeBron James’ head.

lebron-memeDuring the 2020 NBA playoffs, a post circulated online comparing a bald spot on the basketball superstar to the leftover bits on a Reese’s Cup. Luckily, the future hall of famer proved that not only is he the best at his sport, he’s a pretty good sport too, taking to Instagram to laugh off the similarity and even profess his love of peanut butter cups.

“LeBron’s post had thousands of likes and comments, but we could sense consumers’ love – and hate – of the chocolate and peanut butter that’s left over,” Akhtar says, and that acknowledging this public grousing is a great way to authentically activate and engage with consumers.

But what the meme confirmed for Reese’s is that the wrapper is an iconic asset in of itself that’s both recognizable and unique, something that could be the centrepiece of a big OOH asset.

“We feel like there’s a resurgence and a little bit of a new normal coming back, and therefore having some out-of-home activation gearing up to summer and fall was the right decision strategically,” Akhtar says. “A static large image in a densely populated area would stand out in the crowd and capture people’s attention,” especially with its “bullseye millennial” target.