Social campaign recognised for bringing joy to ‘hundreds and thousands’

Whittaker’s and MBM’s colourful campaign marking the return of a Kiwi favourite proved an instant hit with chocolate lovers, and recently received recognition at the 2022 Beacon Awards.

The campaign, titled “Everything’s better covered with Hundreds and Thousands”, secured a silver for Best Use of Social and was built on the popularity of the Hundreds and Thousands Whittaker’s chocolate block that was first launched in 2014.

In the face of Covid restrictions, MBM, and client Whittaker’s, launched an Instagram lens that brought the original concept from the 2014 campaign to life in the digital world.

Liv Glazebrook, Whittaker’s Marketing Manager, says the chocolate was one of the brands most popular limited-edition releases and eager chocolate lovers had been asking for its return since the first run ended.

“It got to the point that whenever we were releasing something new people were always wanting us to just bring back the Hundreds and Thousands blocks, so after a six-year hiatus we decided we would bring it back and delight our chocolate lovers.”

As the introduction of the chocolate had already been so successful, this time it was about launching an old product in a new and exciting way, she says.

However, the timing meant there were a few hurdles to overcome. The original launch of the block had included taking suggestions of objects from fans, literally covering them in Hundreds and Thousands and posting pictures of them online.

This time, with new Covid restrictions in place and limited resources, the team came up with a digital solution to keep fans engaged while they were staying safe in their bubbles.

This came down to understanding what most people had access to in lockdown, and after giving this some thought they landed on smart phones, says Alexandra McElroy, MBM Group Business Director.

Unlike traditional campaigns, the re-launch centred around a single day, which coincidentally was a day when Auckland went back into lockdown in August 2021 and ended up functioning as a pleasant distraction for people wanting to take their minds off things.

“What we wanted to do was still deliver on that really fresh, moment by moment kind of build of hype throughout the day of the launch as opposed to a typical launch campaign where you put it up and talk about it for a week or two and leave it.

“It was very much a nice extension of what we had done back in 2014 but in a really new, exciting way,” Glazebrook adds.

It also meant that the brand could get in touch with its chocolate fans who had really pushed for a resurgence of this flavour, and hint that something they had said had impacted Whittaker’s decision to bring their favourite flavour back.

“That was really special because so many companies don’t listen to requests like that,” says McElroy. “It was nice to be able to show that we are listening. It might have taken 5-6 years, but we did come back for you.”

The success of the campaign came down to the products’ popularity as well as the need for a bit of light-heartedness at the time of the launch she says.

“At that time the Covid campaign was everywhere, and everyone felt that all advertising was about Covid, so it was nice to not have to acknowledge that and give them a treat that everybody needed.”

The teams also had to manage and work around Covid related supply issues.

“Getting people on board with the filter even if they couldn’t get the product instantly was a really great way for them to feel involved,” says McElroy.

Creating the bespoke lens piece, playing it out across paid influencers and encouraging chocolate lovers to get onboard meant there was a “snowball effect” which resulted in a large number of lens opens, Glazebrook says.

The campaign proved popular on social media.

As the campaign was made up of a large percentage of user generated content, Whittaker’s was in a fortunate position of already having a very engaged group of consumers, whether it was prompted or not, and this was a key part of the project.

“That group of chocolate lovers are so important to us. We do listen to them and reply to them. We have always really focused on keeping them at the heart of everything we do. We don’t ever sit down and plan for a campaign without the first question being ‘how can we get our chocolate lovers interested and excited?’ Those are our people; we want to make sure they feel excited about what we have got to share,” McElroy says.

From Whittaker’s perspective, partnering with MBM enabled the launch to be at the forefront of digital innovation.

“The lens concept is an example of how you can approach something in a different way. It’s just having the insight into how to deploy something before anybody else. That gives us a competitive advantage because we are first to market with a launch in a new and exciting way that people haven’t seen before. Since then, I’m sure a number of other brands have tried to deploy the same thing but because we are first to market it has the cut through,” Glazebrook says.

“It was a hard task because we had done something before that was already so successful, so it was about taking the brief and presenting it in a new and exciting way that was better for the digital world we are now in, versus what was quite a different state of market back in 2014.”

McElroy says the most exciting part of the campaign for her was seeing how different the lens looked depending on who was using it and how many people got involved.

“I’m really proud that people remember and love the chocolate so much. The whole campaign really delivered on engaging the audience and the product itself really delivered on the promise that we had put out there. I think the combination of those two are really imperative and helped it be as successful as it was.”

For Glazebrook it was the collaboration between the two organisations that she is most proud of.

“It was a real collective effort to bring that lens piece to life because it was immediate interactions with influencers in that first lens phase. The fact we had buy in from the wider team on launch day was really cool for us.”

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Ayla Miller is a Feature Writer/Sub-editor for SCG Media Business titles, NZ Marketing, StopPress, Idealog and The Register.

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