For many candy brands in the U.S., Halloween is the most important time of the year, but due to the coronavirus pandemic this year it’s going to feel very different—with social distancing dampening trick-or-treating plans and, brands fear, sales.
Hershey-owned brand Reese’s has found a workaround by creating a robotic trick-or-treat door that dispenses king size Peanut Butter Cup candy bars to Halloween fans in their own neighborhood.
The candy brand will send the remotely controlled, and thus socially distanced, door around to consumers who can convince them they are true Halloween fans on Instagram using the hashtag #ReesesDoor. The mobile activation can be controlled from up to 5,000 feet away, meaning its operators don’t have to get close to children who engage with it.
When the 9-foot-tall creation arrives, complete with smoke, lights and a Halloween soundtrack, a king-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup candy will appear from the mail slot when the device detects someone saying “trick or treat.”
The video below (which has no audio) shows how the concept works.
“This Halloween is unlike any other, so we’ve upped the ante on creativity as a result” said Allen Dark, Reese’s senior brand manager. “A robotic Reese’s dispensing door is just what the world needs right now.”
The PR stunt, created by Dentsu Mcgarrybowen and FleishmanHillard, is the latest effort by a candy brand to save Halloween this year, which brought in $4.6 billion in sales in 2019, according to The National Confectioners Association.
Earlier this month Mars Wrigley unveiled an app called Treat Town, which lets users across the country virtually trick or treat with each other throughout October.
Krispy Kreme also developed a “reverse trick or treat” promotion, offering a dozen of its regular glazed donuts for $1 with the purchase of a dozen at full price on Saturdays in the run up to to Halloween. The idea is to then gift the discounted box—which includes a special Jack-O’-Lantern Donut design—to a friend, family member or neighbor.
It’s not the first time Reese’s has experimented with a Halloween candy dispenser. 2018, the brand created a Halloween Candy Converter—a vending machine that accepts lame candy as payment and dispenses a variety of peanut butter treats in return.