Got a Butterfinger Thief? There’s a New Crime-Fighting Unit Ready to Take Your Case

It's the first campaign for the candy bar since Nutella maker Ferrero bought it from Nestlé in 2018

The Blacklist actor Amir Arison and Alexandria Benford star in the spot as investigators Hugh Dunnit and Ali Byes, respectively. Butterfinger
Headshot of Kathryn Lundstrom

Thanks in part to a long deal with The Simpsons, everybody knows the old Butterfinger tagline, “Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger.” But since the height of that partnership in the late ’90s and early 2000s, the brand’s visibility and popularity have taken a hit.

Ferrero, which bought Butterfinger (and the entire chocolate portfolio) from NestlĂ© in 2018, is out to change that. Over the past couple years, the brand’s gotten a packaging refresh and higher quality ingredients, and now it’s getting a new cast of characters.

In its first ad campaign since the acquisition, by agency Piro, the brand brings a whole backstory to the meaning of that familiar phrase—and a team to track down the thieves who would come after your Butterfinger.

In a five-minute mini film debuting online, with shortened versions for digital and TV, fans are introduced to the Butterfinger Investigators, or the BFI. The crime-fighting duo of Hugh Dunnit (played by The Blacklist’s Amir Arison) and Ali Bye (Alexandria Benford) have dedicated their lives to tracking down and stopping Butterfinger snatchers. Spoiler alert: It’s always the grandma.

The short feels like an over-the-top spoof of a classic detective show, along the lines of The Naked Gun, Get Smart or even Ace Ventura, movies that Arison said were some of his favorites growing up. It doesn’t take itself seriously, but the actors certainly do—at least in the final cut. The filming process was filled with laughs and character breaks, according to Arison.

“I’ve never enjoyed making a commercial more,” he said. Parts of the script had to be filmed without making eye contact because they just couldn’t keep from giggling.

Arison worked closely with Piro co-founder and director Tim Piper, who wrote and directed the spot, to build out the character and background story.

“I’ll follow him anywhere with his writing and his comedy,” Arison said. “It’s rare to meet someone that cool and generous and collaborative.”

For Mark Wakefield, svp of marketing for Nutella and chocolate snacks at Ferrero, the new campaign is a way to reintroduce the nearly 100-year-old brand to consumers in a way that respects Butterfinger’s history and personality while introducing a more modern twist.

“We went back to the DNA of the Butterfinger product,” said Wakefield. In addition to the “crispety, crunchety, peanut buttery” flavor of the candy, the brand has always had a kind of cheeky and irreverent personality, he said. With that goal, the riff on a dramatic detective show felt like a perfect fit.

The brand is also rolling out a Halloween-specific aspect to the campaign, which will run beginning today through Nov. 6, asking parents to turn themselves in for stealing the Butterfingers out of their kids’ candy stash. By turning themselves in, thieves will get a chance to win $25,000.

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@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.