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After a voice of god narrator suggests the unthinkable—Reese’s is toying with a classic American confection—one man is so distraught that he drunks his face into a crock pot of chili, while another runs his head through a wall. Grandma does a spit take, an adorable mutt howls, a guy upends a coffee table and a woman crashes through a window.
But that’s just the beginning of what becomes a roller coaster of emotion, both positive and negative, unfolding in a typical suburban living room during a game day gathering. Hearts are broken, melodramatically, until they’re mended—twice over.
The reveal, parceled out in four mini acts, is that Reese’s is introducing a new product—with an added layer of caramel—but it won’t abandon the beloved flagship. Crisis averted! Now who’s cleaning up this mess?
Released today after two 15-second teasers dropped last week, “Yes!” flips the good news-bad news trope on its head, offering a flurry of sight gags and exaggerated physicality in a kinetic 30 seconds.
“We wanted an ad with a lot of talk value that fit squarely within the brand umbrella,” Ryan Riess, vice president of brand strategy and creative development at parent company Hershey, said. “We picked this idea because it’s so easy to understand, yet when you peel back the layers, there’s a lot to it—it’s so dynamic.”
The ad comes from independent agency Erich & Kallman, which has done project work for other Hershey brands in the recent past. This is the shop’s most significant assignment to date from the client, for which co-founder and chief creative officer Eric Kallman recommended going the high-concept route while avoiding the famous faces trap.
“The best ads are the simplest ads—this one happens to revolve around controlled chaos,” Kallman said. “The way to stand out during the Super Bowl is to stay away from celebrities.”
For the brand’s return to the Super Bowl—having advertised its Take 5 bar in 2020—Reese’s considered hiring a boldface name to compete in the Hollywood-heavy showcase, but it preferred the approach that put the focus squarely on the candy.
“The product is the star,” Riess said of the re-emergence of the peanut butter and caramel cup that had a brief run in 2005. “We love that it gets all the attention.”
A pivotal tweak
The spot, airing during the first quarter of the Feb. 11 matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, comes from director Harold Einstein, a veteran of numerous Super Bowl campaigns whose CV includes work for Little Caesars, Kayak, Geico and Pringles, among others.
Creatives had envisioned capturing the wacky activity for “Yes!” in a wide angle—a full-frame look at everything happening all at once—giving a fly-on-the-wall peek into a game day party that had been amped to 11.
Viewers would need to rewatch the spot, in all likelihood, to be able to pick out the individual bits of slapstick. The benefit of that is clear, with Reese’s and every other brand aiming for multiple views of their Big Game ads, given that they’re spending as much as $7 million on media alone for the CBS telecast.
But the approach changed when the teams saw an early cut of “Yes!” and found that “you didn’t know where to look” when characters were flip-flopping from their “noooooooo” to “yessss” stunts, Kallman said.
Instead of allowing the audience’s eyes to dart around the screen, the Reese’s executives suggested sprinkling in close-ups of a few of the actors. Creatives tried it and tested both executions before incorporating the idea.
The switch turned out to be “the most consequential pivot in the making of the ad,” per Kallman, with the tweak helping to “pick up the pace, bring out the humor and ramp up the energy.”
Teamwork, dream work
The editing-room refinements to “Yes!” happened because of the partnership between brand and agency, Kallman said, which blossomed at the commercial’s soundstage shoot in the Los Angeles area in November.
Although it’s not the norm, the teams had unfettered access to Einstein, stationing themselves just behind the camera and conferring with him frequently between takes. (ADWEEK was invited for a set visit).
Among the joint decisions: “thumbs-up-thumbs-down guy” should deliberately nod and shake his head instead of keeping his body still; “noooooooo” should be held as long as possible, per lung capacity; and crock pot guy should pogo and fist-pump. There was no need for debate about the canine cast member, who deftly hit his marks, barking, twirling and hula-hooping on cue (that last part came via special effects in postproduction).
Reese’s execs, admittedly squeamish around food that’s not beautifully presented, leaned into the messiness of the concept—to a point. Crock pot guy’s face was often covered in chili and popcorn, but Reiss had some style tips from the sidelines.
“Less viscous matter, more dry material,” Riess said after one particularly gooey take.
Einstein, fitting multiple choreographed gags into the spot, spent much of the shoot keeping a close eye on the stopwatch he wore around his neck.
“This is tight storytelling where each beat matters, and what we’re trying to show is, ‘Here are all the funny ways people can freak out,’” Einstein said. “It’s like a chess game, and we’re looking for gestures that are appropriately ridiculous.”