Candy is Dandy

May 3, 2010

For years candy companies have undoubtedly made their delicious treats synonymous with fun. Whether they were tempting people with dancing candies across a theater screen or paying a pretty penny for advertising spots, these businesses have tried to incorporate themselves in people’s lives as often as they could. This is the same today as it was years before, only this time these sweets are more prominent in a whole new media platform.

Since we crave entertainment and a certain level of involvement, candy companies have had to figure out a way to reach a myriad of audiences and maintain people’s attention by creating more interactive brand ads. This usually requires the company to adopt new mediums and to present itself in a way that incorporates actions made by the customer. In other words, brands are being strengthened by connecting themselves with ideas and mediums such as gaming, movie tie-ins, viral videos and online sites such as Twitter or Facebook.

One of the more successful and aggressive marketing strategies currently seen is the M&M online campaign. Not only have TV viewers seen clever commercials that make us giggle:

But we also have the opportunity to “become” an M&M ourselves. When visiting the M&M site, which according to an article from iMedia Connection had 283,000 unique visitors in June of 2009 alone, you can choose from a wide selection of physical features and accessories to create an M&M personality that mimics you or any other person. This has made the brand more fun for people, while building a relationship between the consumer and the company.

Mars also reached beyond engaging people with M&M personalities by creating holiday related games. During Easter, the company created a 3D “Easter Egg Hunt” type of game where they hid codes on their site, as well as some others, and encouraged customers to find and decode the pin numbers. The winners walked away with points and prizes.

Other companies have also been successful by utilizing social media tools. A perfect example of this is Cadbury’s Creme Egg Twisted Campaign.  The corporation gained millions of followers by asking customers to make creative videos or photo stories that gave information on the “missing” twisted bar. They made an interactive site that showed the wanted or fugitive posting for a Mr. Twisted Bar on the grounds of “gooing public figures. Celebrity gooings. Conspiring with other bars to create Gooey mayhem and organizing illegal gooing attacks online.”

By involving their customers in a fun activity that focused on their brand, they  achieved not only great marketing but entertained consumers on a whole new level.

Unfortunately, sometimes the sugar rush ends when using these newer media outlets incorrectly. Skittles, for example, did well in the beginning when they redesigned their site to be more colorful and modern, but soon plummeted when their Twitter account was bombarded with negative and uncensored buzz from “pranksters” and others that seeked to market their own products.

I guess that goes to show that there are pros and cons to utilizing new mediums for a candy brand these days. Although this generation needs to be more involved and companies are finding success in the adopt of various platforms, let the previous Skittles campaign be a warning to all that you also need to know how to use them as well as which ones will be most beneficial so things don’t go sour.