The Deconstructed Brief

Candy Converter

Candy Converter

Brand: REESE’S
Agency: Anomaly


REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups are the 800-pound gorilla of candy sales. They are the top-selling candy in the United States, according to Business Insider.

Halloween is an absolutely crucial period for candy giants, with over $2.7 billion in sales, according to the National Retail Federation. (The Christmas season clocks in at $1.76 billion.) REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups can generate over $50 million a week in sales in the months leading up to Halloween.

Halloween candy sales have continued to grow every year, despite increasing concerns about sugar content in CPG products. Big players, like HERSHEY’S and Mars, have diversified their product lines. New brands are jumping in to try to steal share of the holiday.

How can REESE’S stand out in a crowded field of candy competitors — especially when they are taking creative risks, like this?

Key insight

Never settle for lesser candy.

The idea:

REESE’s created a vending machine that allows people to exchange unwanted candy — looking at you, candy corn — for Peanut Butter Cups. The vending machine is stupidly simple: People just drop candy into the top slot, and REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups pop out of the bottom slot. No catch — just free REESE’S. (Note: The brand has not revealed whether the machines are electronic or run manually.)

The Candy Converter made its debut during the Tarrytown Halloween Parade last weekend. Deep lines quickly formed as parade-goers exchanged unwanted candy, like Dum Dums, for the good stuff. REESE’S claims that the machine is able to give away 10,000 Peanut Butter Cups, according to Delish.

Media are always hungry for lighthearted stories about interesting Halloween products in the days leading up to the holiday. Sure enough, the Candy Converter was picked up by a wide range of mainstream media outlets, including Thrillist, Delish, Us Weekly, USA TODAY, Complex and CNN, in addition to local news outlets.

Anna Lingeris, a spokesperson for REESE’S, told CNN that the brand is considering bringing the Candy Converter to other cities in 2019.

What they said:

In a tweet announcing the Candy Converter, REESE’S said, “No tricks here. Trade in your Halloween candy for REESE’S candy. What’d you expect from the GOAT of Halloween?!”

Lessons to be learned:

  • Follow the behavior. — REESE’S commissioned a survey, finding that 90 percent of Americans wish they could trade unwanted candy for something better. Almost 80 percent of those would make the trade for REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups. Like all great marketing, the Candy Converter helps position REESE’S as an easy solution to a universal problem: We all want Peanut Butter Cups for Halloween.

  • Stoke FOMO. — Many brands are creating unique experiences to help engage fans and drive buzz on social media. One important aspect of these experiences is that they are limited to a small group of people. The Candy Converter only appeared three times — once in Tarrytown and twice in New York City — and only for a couple of hours. People want things they can’t have.  This drives those who were there to brag about the exclusive experience, which gets shared by fans who missed out.

  • Keep it simple. — REESE’S stayed away from the typical product demonstration traps to allow fans to have a more authentic experience. There were no fancy lights or music and no team of interns guiding people on the use of the vending machine. REESE’S allowed fans to discover the magic on their own, which made for authentic reactions, captured on video.