Butterfinger hits the books to drive awareness

After returning to Canada last year, the Ferrero brand is connecting with the campus crowd via study-kit vending machines.


Ferrero is schooling its target market with Butterfinger branded scan-to-vend machines, linking chocolate to study time.

In effort to drive sampling leading up to final exams, Ferrero Canada has sent QR-code activated vending machines to the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier, Western and Ryerson campuses.

Students who scan the code will answer a one-question survey about their study habits before a “#ButterfingerBoost” branded study pack – which includes sticky notes, pens and highlighters, in addition to the candy bar – are dispensed.

“It had to be more than just handing out samples – we wanted to have some fun,” says Marcela Pedroza, marketing director for Butterfinger at Ferrero Canada, who adds it identified post-secondary students as a key demographic for the brand, so linking the confectionery to study snacking occasions made strategic sense. 

Butterfinger_waterloo-4Pedroza tells strategy that while Butterfinger is well known in the U.S., it’s a relatively new brand in Canada so it was really important to drive trial in an engaging way. Nestle sold Butterfinger to Ferrero in 2018, along with nearly two-dozen other confectionery brands, notably Baby Ruth and Nerds. Butterfinger has had on-and-off availability in the Canadian market, but Ferrero relaunched the brand here last year.

The machines came to Waterloo and Laurier this week, and will appear at Western and Ryerson next week. Ferrero has vended more than 4,000 samples up to now, according to Pedroza.

“The vending machine helps us get in front of students in a touchless, socially-distant way, while interacting with them by asking fun questions about their study habits,” Pedroza says.

These insights will be integrated into Butterfinger’s social content creation strategy, as the brand kicks off its social handles in Canada with Instagram and Facebook this spring.

Pedroza says that now that the company has built distribution for Butterfinger, it is ready to support the brand with a full marketing plan that will include more sampling, as well as OLV, social media, wild postings and e-commerce.

People who came of age in the 80s and 90s will recognize its Bart Simpson-linked catchphrase, “Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger!

However, according to Pedroza, it’s key to focus on the brand’s attributes first and foremost by honing in on the “crispety, crunchety, peanut-buttery” flavour of Butterfinger, which are also key aspects of its long-standing brand positioning.

The latest campaign, she explains, does tap into that heritage, but focuses more on the brand’s taste and texture, to help differentiate it in a highly competitive category

Ferrero is working with Piro, Golin, PHD and Proof as its agency partners.