Sour Patch embraces multi-channel cheekiness for its Kiwi launch

Back in July another sugary treat was ushered onto Kiwi shelves, with the arrival of Sour Patch, a range of sour lollies that have been available in the US since the late 1970s. As with most candy brands, the marketing has been geared at younger consumers, and for this reason Sour Patch has partnered with creative agency Young & Shand, media agency Carat and PR agency Beat Communications to develop a digitally powered campaign that aims to appeal to Generation Z (those born in the mid or late 1990s).

Since June, several weeks before the official launch, the Sour Patch Facebook page has been updated regularly with quirky images of the colourful anthropomorphic lollies staged in a range bizarre positions and scenes. 

As the release explains, the motivation behind the Facebook page’s early launch was generate hype about the new product. 

“The Sour Patch Facebook page reflects the personality of the brand and is run with their sour then sweet personality and their cheeky, disruptive and mischievous nature. The page kicked off two weeks prior to launch to build excitement and anticipation before the candy arrived in New Zealand. To build the audience for the page an innovative sweet or sour app was developed at launch to test the sour or sweetness of posts on consumers Facebook pages.”

Before the launch, Sour Patch also held sample sessions at universities and delivered sample packs to influencers, such as bloggers and social media posters, in order to spread the message. And this approach seems to be paying off. At the time of publishing this article, the Sour Patch page already had over 22,500 likes, with the highest level of engagement coming from those aged between 13 and 17 living in the Auckland—and the momentum seems to be holding strong, with 623 new followers signing up in the last week.   

Sour Patch has also attempted to drive Instagram engagement by projecting followers’ selfies—shared via #sourpatchselfie—of their ‘sour faces’ onto one of the four digital billboards located around Auckland.

A Sour Patch release claimed that this was “the first socially integrated billboard in New Zealand and the first to stream live content created through a hashtag thread on Instagram”, but this isn’t entirely accurate.

In August, Vodafone collaborated with Image Centre-owned digital media agency Ngage and APN Outdoor to launch a series of interactive LED billboards that members of the public were able to engage with via their mobile phones. The content displayed on each of the three billboards on display in Ponsonby, Eden Terrace and Parnell was delivered via Vodafone’s machine-to-machine technology, and the messages were reflected in real time.  

That being said, the Sour Patch campaign does give ordinary Kiwis the opportunity to have their faces displayed on the the billboards, and this certainly novel.

The brand’s slogan is ‘Sour, Sweet, Gone’ and in much of the international advertising this has been given a literal interpretation, which often leads to the Sour Patch characters doing something nasty before following it up with a kinder act (the following two spots have also aired on Kiwi TV). 


This approach has also been carried across to TVNZ Ondemand, with one spot showing a 3D animated Sour patch character disrupting viewing by cracking the screen with a hammer before mending the damage with tape in the shape of a heart. According to the Sour Patch release, this is the first time that an advertiser has used 3D animation on TVNZ OnDemand.

This cheekiness has also been carried over into the real world. As part of an experiential activation orchestrated at cinemas throughout the nation, movie goers were first denied entrance to the film (sour), before being upgraded into Gold Class (sweet).  

“This campaign has been great fun to work on as throughout all activity we have adopted the Sour Patch personality,” said Sour Patch Brand Manager Nicola Leenman in the release. “Targeting Gen Z required us to be innovative and not rely on traditional media channels, the success of our work has really been reflected in sales.”   



Nicola Leenman – Brand Manager Biscuits and Candy


Jacquie Bennett – Planning Director
Sunita Bhana – Business Manager
Adam Negus – Account Executive

Young & Shand

Dan Maas – Account Director
Hollie-Blue Allum – Senior Account Manager
Hannah Musuku – Account Manager
Jon Coles – Creative Director
Anita Young – Senior Art Director
Andrew Dover – Developer
Ting Teng – Senior Designer

Beat Communications:

Gina McKinnon – Business Director

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