Hershey Kisses brings the Kissletoe to holiday reunions

With pandemic restrictions easing, the confectionery has created new digital activations to celebrate being together.

Hershey-SweetHershey is expecting reunions to be that much sweeter with lockdowns easing, as it builds momentum for its Kisses, a growth driver for its holiday business.

The confectionery’s “Sweet Reunions” campaign is going live this week and will run through December. It is once again being led by a TV spot featuring festive-wrapped Kisses arranged into the shape of tree and playing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” like bells, which has become a classic piece of creative for the brand but was tweaked slightly last year to include a tagline celebrating togetherness. Baden Ireland, senior marketing manager at Hershey Canada, tells strategy the 2020 spot, “We’re at our best when we’re together,” (see, below) was brought back because it beat out 51 other Christmas ads from that year in terms of creative effectiveness, scoring highly in terms of emotional response in testing.

But where there is new is on the digital front. The campaign features a “Kissletoe” Instagram digital filter that encourages people to celebrate real-life, in-person gatherings. The target audience is what the company calls “festive moms” between the ages of 25 and 54. With more people at home, Ireland says “having fun through those digital spaces is more relevant,” and for every time the filter is downloaded, Hershey Canada is donating to BGC Canada.

Digital activations like this one build on things like the “Treat Quest” Halloween execution on Snapchat, in which users could search their favourite Hershey’s candy, find special Halloween-themed lenses, win prize packs and unlock donations for BGC.

The positioning of the campaign builds around 2019′s reunion-themed campaign, in which Hershey donated a portion of the money that would otherwise have been spent on advertising Kisses to instead support GoFundMe campaigns covering travel costs for families to reunite over the holidays.

While the campaign might not have been appropriate for the 2020 holiday season, when much of the country was still in pandemic lockdowns and in-person gatherings were discouraged, the easing of health restrictions makes 2021 a good time to return to it. Ireland says the “Sweet Reunions” campaign is all about the fact that holidays are sweeter with Hershey’s Kisses, as they have always played on expressions of togetherness rooted in the playful brand name and iconic foil-wrapped shape, great for sharing.

When it comes to spend, Ireland says investment around the holidays represents a “big bet season for Kisses.” According to Nielsen data, when it comes to holiday dollar volume percentage change versus 2019, Hershey’s Kisses are up 31%, compared with 4% for the category as a whole, with primary and secondary usage driven by candy dishes and baking ingredients.

There’s a strong in-store component as well, in market through the end of December, which features an integration with holiday classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas. While not a focus of the “Sweet Reunions” campaign, the holidays “are a season where consumers are looking for something that’s fun and unique and special,” Ireland says.

Anomaly handled the creative on the holiday campaign, UM the buy side.