Hershey Reconsiders Ad Strategy

NEW YORK — Hershey Foods Corp. is re-evaluating the advertising strategies behind core brands Hershey’s Chocolate Bar, Hershey’s Kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, sources said. Ogilvy & Mather in New York handles the three brands. Fellow roster shop DDB is said to be participating in the process.

“This is not a traditional agency shootout where each side is being asked to formally pitch new campaigns,” said a source close to the discussions. “Hershey has established this as a series of informal discussions as it tries to assess whether they’re getting the best value and creativity for their core brands.”

Spending behind the brands runs around $30 million annually, according to CMR.

The assessment has been going on for a while, the source said, and the discussions gathered steam around the time Hershey began its $175 million media-consolidation review in February. A decision in that review is expected by the end of this month.

The media review was driven by several new executives at Hershey and the retirement of much of its old guard, sources said. The turn over also appears to be a factor in the re-evaluation of Hershey’s creative.

While creative executives from DDB and Ogilvy are involved in the discussions with the client, they have not presented any creative work, sources said.

“We have the sense that Hershey wants to seriously examine whether they’re getting the best work-it’s not that they’ve expressed particular dissatisfaction with the way things have been handled up to this point,” said a source.

It is unclear whether Hershey is contemplating consolidating the brands or reshuffling the brands among its agencies. Said the source: “We’re in the dark as to what direction and how far Hershey wants to go with its assessment.”

DDB, here, handles nine Hershey brands, including Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, Kit Kat, PayDay, Twizzler’s, York Peppermint Patties and Reese’s FastBreak.

A third agency, Harris Drury Cohen in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., handles creative duties on Hershey International’s $6 million account.

Calls to Hershey, Ogilvy and DDB were not returned.

Hershey has worked with DDB since 1978 and with Ogilvy & Mather since 1969.