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HersheyArchives@30-30: Hershey Chocolate-the Great American Chocolate Bar

Remember your first Hershey Bar? Print advertisement, 1980

Remember your first Hershey Bar? Print advertisement, 1980

 

It is an advertising industry legend that Hershey Chocolate did not advertise. The advertising industry marveled at Hershey’s success without the use of advertising. During the company’s first fifty years, Hershey Chocolate succeeded without media advertising because it had few competitors in the solid chocolate confectionery market.

 

Hershey Chocolate offered a variety of promotional displays to stores to help them promote Hershey products. ca1936

Hershey Chocolate offered a variety of promotional displays to stores to help them promote Hershey products. ca1936

 

 

Window display, 1930-1932

Window display, 1930-1932

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The image of Hershey as a company that succeeded without advertising stretches the truth.  It is true that Hershey did not use media advertising (newspaper ads, radio, television) until 1970. However, Hershey did make extensive use of trade and point of purchasing advertisements throughout its history.  Unlike most companies that directed advertising dollars to consumers as well as customers, Hershey concentrated all its advertising budget towards the trade, placing ads in trade publications, offering cut sheets to customers to use in their own newspaper ads and promoting its products with shelf talkers and window displays.

 

In the 1960s, market changes and the growth of the Mars Candy Company under Forrest Mars challenged Hershey’s control of the market. During the 1960s, Mars steadily gained market share and Hershey realized that it would have to change how it conducted business.

 

It was not a simple matter to begin media and print advertising. Hershey first needed to build the infrastructure that would enable them to develop a modern marketing program and support an advertising campaign.  That took several years.

 

Jack Dowd, hired in 1965 to help Hershey establish its first marketing department, recalled in his 1991 oral history interview, the chocolate company’s reluctance to move towards implementing a media advertising campaign, in spite of the company’s trend toward losing market share.

 

Incidentally, my interview, the first day I met a number of people, including Harold Mohler [Hershey Chocolate Corporation president].  He said, “They seem to like you here, but a couple of things you should know about Hershey.  One is, we don’t advertise.”

I said, “I’m vividly aware of that.  Everybody in marketing is aware of that.  But I have a couple of hypotheses about your company because I’ve done a lot of reading about it, and if they’re true, you’re going to be advertising.”

He said, “What are they?”

I said, “I think your share of market has been declining.”

And he said, “Yes, it has.”

I said, “I think your new products are not as successful as your old products.”

He said, “That’s true.  They’re not.” 

And I said, “I don’t think that your products are as popular with children as they are with adults.”

And he said, “That’s true.” 

And I said, “Given those three, you’re going to start to advertise.” 

He said, “Well, we haven’t decided yet.”

 

It was not until 1969 that the company was ready to launch a national media advertising campaign.

 

When Hershey Foods Corporation began the process of searching for an advertising agency, it was particularly interested in the agency’s skills in producing television ads. After interviewing six firms, Hershey hired Ogilvy and Mather, who were based in New York City.

 

In sharing the news of hiring Ogilvy & Mather with their employees, Hershey noted the growing competition for shelf space in the grocery store, the changing demographics of the country’s population with the emergence of the baby boom generation and the need to connect with a more youthful audience. The July 21, 1969 memo stated:

 

With the competition getting keener for the consumers sweet tooth – and the fact that almost half of the people in the United States today are under 25 years of age, we felt it prudent to introduce this marketing tool to acquaint this younger generation with our items and to maintain our position with the over 25 group.

 

Hershey selected three brands with which to test the advertising waters: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Hershey’s Instant, a milk chocolate powder. At first tests were done in seven cities for several months before launching a national campaign in September, 1970.

 

Hershey Foods Corporation used both television and print media ads to promote its products. 1980

Hershey Foods Corporation used both television and print media ads to promote its products. 1980

 

Ogilvy & Mather’s creative director for the Hershey Milk Chocolate team was Billings Fuess.  He developed the “Hershey. The Great American Chocolate Bar” ad campaign.

 

Billings Fuess was inspired by his love of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, believing that it was superior to European milk chocolate. He explained his reasoning and inspiration in a 2010 oral history interview.:

 

I had the idea for “The Great American Chocolate Bar” because I knew there was a lot of wonderful history behind Hershey.  I also liked Hershey bars and they were a heck of a lot better than their competition from Switzerland.  And I wanted to give them a dig and say the great AMERICAN chocolate bar.

 

Storyboard for Hershey's Milk Chocolate commercial, "Montage." 5/1970

Storyboard for Hershey’s Milk Chocolate commercial, “Montage.” 5/1970

 

Along with the slogan, Fuess also developed the concept for the first television commercials.  He wanted the commercials to express the personal relationships nurtured by the shared enjoyment of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate.  His strategy was to “build upon the marvelous reminisces of people and what the Hershey bar means to most people and the fact that it’s American and it tastes so good and there’s something wondrous about a little child eating it and sharing it with his parents . . . The idea of a father with his son on his shoulders and the son tears open the Hershey bar, eats some and give some to his father as he’s walking down the street.”

 

The Great American Chocolate Bar campaign served the company well. It continued to serve as the basis of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate marketing from 1970 until 1994.

 

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HersheyArchives@30-18 Only Hershey’s Kisses are Kisses

Consumers associate a trademark with their experiences with the service or product the trademark represents. Milton Hershey prided himself on manufacturing quality products believing quality was “the best advertising in the world.” Hershey Chocolate Company trademarks and trade dress were consistent across the product line so a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar was easily identifiable as being from the same company as Hershey’s Cocoa. “Hershey’s” meant quality to consumers and it has always been important to the company to maintain the positive association that Milton Hershey established.

 

Early Trademark Action

 

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In 1905, the Societe Generale Suisse De Chocolats, manufacturers of Peter’s Chocolate brought suit against Hershey Chocolate Company arguing that Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar wrappers were too similar to those of Peter’s and caused consumer confusion.  Milton Hershey was ordered to change his design and subsequently adopted the now iconic maroon and silver wrapper.  Although he lost the case, Peter’s legal action introduced Mr. Hershey to the value of intellectual property and brand protection.  When his next product, Hershey’s Kisses, was introduced in 1907, Hershey diligently surveyed the marketplace for products too similar to his own.

 

Hershey Chocolate Company sold Hershey's Kisses by weight.  The pail was a unique way of packing bulk Kisses. ca1920

Hershey Chocolate Company sold Hershey’s Kisses by weight. The pail was a unique way of packing bulk Kisses. ca1920

 

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses were initially available for purchase in bulk and later in 10 cent boxes.  From 1907 until 1921, Kisses that were sold in bulk (meaning sold either by a specified number of Kisses or by weight) were identified by their display container and with nearby point-of-purchase placards.  A square piece of tissue-paper, printed with the company trademark, placed underneath the chocolate and wrapped inside the foil wrapper was the only other means of identifying the product as Hershey’s.  Since the buyer could not see that identification until after the chocolate was unwrapped, it encouraged many imitations.

 

One of Hershey's many competitors, Klein Chocolate Company marketed their conical pieces of chocolate as "Silver Bells." ca1930

One of Hershey’s many competitors, Klein Chocolate Company marketed their conical pieces of chocolate as “Silver Bells.” ca1930

 

To counteract the many competitors, Hershey Chocolate Company developed wrapping machinery that could insert a visual product marker, the plume or tag, in 1921.  Hershey began advertising its new wrapping technology and asking consumers to look for the identification tag.

 

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In-store poster promoting Hershey’s Kisses with its trademark plume. 1921

 

 

An Employee becomes a Competitor

 

In 1910, Milton Hershey hired James B. Leithiser, the husband of one of his cousins, to serve as general manager of all the non-chocolate businesses—what would later be consolidated as Hershey Estates.  Leithiser was responsible for overseeing the majority of the town’s building initiatives and the community’s development over the next ten years.

 

As Milton Hershey began to expand his operations in Cuba, he asked Leithiser to move to Cuba and oversee its operations.  Rather than move, in 1921 Leithiser resigned from his position and relocated to Berks County in Pennsylvania to open a confectionery business, Fleetwood Chocolate Company.

 

Rumors that former officials of the Hershey chocolate company who in the last few months have severed their connections with the chocolate king were about to organize a new company in Berks county have been confirmed… J.B. Leithiser….who grew up with the Hershey plant as one of the executive managers is named as president of the Fleetwood organization. [Lebanon Daily News, 01/06/1922]

 

A year later Fleetwood was in direct competition with Hershey’s.  One item in particular caught the attention of William F.R. Murrie, president of Hershey Chocolate Company.

 

Fleetwood Milk Chocolate Kisses box. 1923

Fleetwood Milk Chocolate Kisses box. 1923

 

Protecting the Brand

 

When Hershey Chocolate Company began including a plume with each wrapped Hershey’s Kiss, the company also filed a federal trademark registration, registering the mark “Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses” in 1923.  Fleetwood’s Milk Chocolate Kisses prompted Hershey to consider the value of the term “Kisses” in general.  Hershey Chocolate Company president William F.R. Murrie brought the Fleetwood product to the attention of Mr. Hershey’s attorney, John E. Snyder.  Murrie thought it was imperative to protect the Kisses brand.  “It seems to me that we should not surrender what rights we may have in the use of the words, ‘Kisses,’ or ‘Milk Chocolate Kisses.’”

 

 

Correspondence  from Hershey Chocolate Company President William F.R. Murrie to John E. Snyder, Mr. Hershey's attorney. 3/17/1923

Correspondence from Hershey Chocolate Company President William F.R. Murrie to John E. Snyder, Mr. Hershey’s attorney. 3/17/1923

 

Additional federal trademark registrations protecting the name, and unique conical shape of Kisses, both wrapped and unwrapped, were later obtained.  Today, The Hershey Company continues to proactively protect the Kisses brand.  One reason is to avoid a generic or “genericized” trademark.  Trademarks can become “genericized” when the associated product or service acquires substantial market dominance or “mind space” and the trademark becomes a term for the product or service itself instead of a brand.  Genericized trademarks include: aspirin; escalator; trampoline; and laundromat.  A company risks losing its trademark and associated rights if a trademark becomes genericized and it also enables competitors to use the trademark.

 

Hershey Chocolate Company executives recognized the value of the Kisses brand early in the product’s history.  Early and continued brand protection ensures that Kisses chocolates and confections are still only associated with Hershey.

 

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