Marketer: Nestle USA, Glendale, California-Anne Loveland, associate marketing manager
On-line partner: FoxKids.com, Los Angeles, California-Susan Bennett, director of new media promotions; Stephanie Leitner, account executive; Beth Carofano, on-line producer; Marc Siry, creative director
Market: U.S. national
The idea: To use media with heavy kid traffic and relevance to introduce a new green apple flavor to the 40-year-old SweeTARTS candy brand.
The campaign: Nestle designed an integrated plan that includes a SweeTARTS mini-site on FoxKids.com, national print exposure, a sweepstakes offer and in-store displays. The confectioner will also distribute nearly four million sample packages to kids this summer at various kid-friendly venues, including Six Flags and Disney theme parks and Loews movie theaters.
‘The sour category has seen double-digit compounded annual growth rates over the last three years,’ says Anne Loveland, Nestle associate marketing manager. ‘The growth is running at a much faster clip than the strictly sweet flavors.’ Glomming onto this burgeoning extreme-flavor confectionery trend, Nestle launched Green Apple Flavor SweeTARTS in April, the same month that saw M&M/Mars add green apple flavors to its Skittles and Starburst lines.
The choice to aim marketing efforts for the new flavor at kid consumers may seem like a no-brainer, but the campaign’s demographic focus actually rests on market research indicating that young consumers prefer the sour profile. Kids love things that are different or extreme, and eating sour or intensely-flavored products can sometimes be ‘a form of expression and individuality,’ according to Loveland. ‘Tweens in particular like sour flavors because as they grow up, they are looking for ways to expand their palates and stretch their taste buds,’ she says.
Careful timing and media choices were key to the campaign’s planning stages as Nestle was striving to hit kids when they are most likely to be consuming candy-namely during spare time activities like web surfing, shopping, movie-going, etc.
On-line, in particular, offered a more direct and interactive connection with kids. ‘Simply advertising on TV or in print limits the degree to which the brand can express its personality because a two-way interaction is not
present,’ says Loveland. For this reason, the Internet is a crucial medium of the SweeTARTS campaign, with every other element driving kids to the mini-site launching this month at FoxKids.com/sweetarts. Loveland says Nestle chose Fox’s in-house design team to build the SweeTARTS on-line hub because ‘it has managed to build itself into a legitimate and
sustained kids brand, and it’s where kids are on the web.’
Up until August 31, the mini-site offers four components: an original kids game, a sweepstakes component, four e-cards, and a product/trivia page. The SweeTARTS Green Apple Sling Shot web game gives high-scoring kids a chance to win a case of SweeTARTS by lobbing candies into the gaping mouths of hungry kid characters across a busy California boulevard. Kids can also download a mail-in entry form for the ‘Green Apple Getaway’ sweepstakes for a five-day family trip to Hollywood.
To reach kids face-to-face, nearly four million samples of the new green apple product will be distributed at popular tween
summer locations. The strategy is to ‘be where the kids are,’ says Loveland, and freebie distribution breaks down like this: Roughly 250,000 samples at eight major Six Flags theme parks; more than three million at 250 Loews movie theaters nationwide for 12 weeks, starting Memorial Day weekend; 100,000 at various Disney parks and other Mouse House-owned venues; and more than 400,000 samples will be handed to tweens at summer camps, malls and fashion shows across the country.
In April, about 120,000 samples were also distributed in a ‘Slumber Party’ pack at 1,000 Wal-Mart stores in the U.S. The chain stocks many of the tween magazines-Fox Kids Magazine, J-14 and Twist, for example-that figure into the Green Apple Flavor SweeTARTS print component, which broke in April/May and runs through to September.
To round out the initiative’s store presence, key SKUs of Green Apple Flavor SweeTARTS are currently sporting new packaging, and participating retailers will feature in-store signage that includes floorstand header cards pointing kids to the ‘Green Apple Getaway’ sweepstakes and the slingshot on-line game.