Hershey Sweetens Its Advertising

The Hershey Company said it will increasingly target key consumer segments as a way to drive sales growth, and the company also plans to boost total advertising by 20% in both 2008 and 2009.

The company’s efforts will be focused on core brands that currently generate about 60% of the it’s total sales in the U.S., a targeted approach that, combined with an increase in U.S. retail coverage, should enable it to consistently meet net sales and earnings objectives in the future.

“Our extensive consumer research validates our strategy of increasing advertising and consumer investment behind the core U.S. brands that offer the greatest potential for growth,” said David J. West, Hershey’s president and CEO. “We will combine this focused approach with consumer-centric innovation and continued international expansion to achieve our long-term net sales growth rate of 3 to 5%. Longer term, as marketplace trends improve and targeted consumer initiatives are executed, the company expects to generate earnings per share growth of 6 to 8%.”

The company is aiming for full-year 2008 net sales growth of 3 to 4.

Among the company’s recent promotions is “Cash 4 Gas,” which folds the PayDay and Skor brands into an instant-win game where customers can receive cash for more than 100,000 gallons of free gas.

From June through December this year, anyone who purchases specially marked PayDay and Skor candy bars can look inside the wrappers to see if they’ve instantly won one of more than 5,500 cash prizes.

Fifty grand-prize winners will win free cash for gas for one year, valued at $2,340, while other winners can score $45 cash towards a tank of gas. More than $360,000 in cash prizes will be given away through specially marked packages of PayDay Bars and Skor Bars, the company said.

“High gas prices continue to be a concern for everyone and The Hershey Company is excited to offer a fun and delicious way to save on gas costs through our ‘Cash 4 Gas’ promotion,” said Jody Cook, director of product publicity.

The Hershey Company kicked off the “Cash 4 Gas” promotion one morning this week at a 7-Eleven in Romeoville, Ill., where it surprised motorists with a free tank of gas. By the end of the giveaway, 12 gasoline pumps dispensed more than 5,000 gallons of free gas into 380 gas tanks. The lucky motorists were given PayDay and Skor bars to eat as their tanks were filled.

In another promotion tied to the July 18 release of “The Dark Knight,” Hershey is offering various prizes to customers who find “bat signals” in special Batman edition Reese’s and Kit Kat candy bars. The grand prize winner will receive a $35,000 Batman motorcycle, while other prizes include five home theater systems.

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