Reese’s Turns Halloween Disappointment Into Experiential Marketing Deliciousness

The peanut butter cup is America’s favorite Halloween offering, and Reese’s knows it. So this year they decided to dunk on the confection competition with a first-of-its-kind candy exchange vending machine. “Disappointing” candy goes in, Reese’s Cups come out, and a fantastic piece of experiential marketing is the brand byproduct.

Hershey Halloween experiential marketing stunt is giving away 10,000 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in exchange for "disappointing candy" at its Reese's Candy Exchange vending machines.

Whatever candy you’re giving out for Halloween, it they’re not Reese’s Cups, you’re going to have some disappointed trick-or-treaters. The peanut butter cup is America’s favorite Halloween offering, and Hershey — maker of the Reese’s Cup — knows it. So this year, as part of its #notsorry social media push, Hershey decided to dunk on the confection competition with a first-of-its-kind candy exchange vending machine that will dispense up to 10,000 peanut butter cups in exchange for other candies. “Disappointing” candy goes in, Reese’s Cups come out, and a fantastic piece of experiential marketing is the brand-building byproduct.

Really, it’s a thing of beauty. Check it out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m89djlGgzIQ

Rebirth of the Branded Vending Machine

Vending machines are a new frontier in out-of-home, experiential marketing. The maker movement, 3D printing tech and accessible robotics have come together to enable some rally cool on-site site gizmos. Experiences like the custom Oreo Trending Vending machine, which caused lines to form around the block at SXSW and got 45 million media impressions.

And that’s really just the start. Brands from Coca-Cola to Berlinomat have crated vending machines that both serve products and deliver impressive brand experiences that customers love to talk about and share.

Unique Out-of-Home Experiences

One of the overlooked aspects of our social media world is that an in-person, out-of-home, brand experience can generate significant earned media impressions. Maya, the agency behind the 3D printed Oreos claims the stunt earned 45 media impressions. There aren’t many better ways to get people talking than letting them interact with a giant machine that gives them what they want: Your product.

While the word “vending machine” conjures ubiquitous images in most of our minds, what sets many of these machines apart is precisely that they’re not the black-box can conveyors of old. Applying the traditional form factor to new uses creates new and interesting animatronics.

You don’t just get a pack of Reese’s Cups, you turn your unwanted candy in to be counted and get an equivalent number of Reese’s Cups. You don’t just order a pack of Oreos, you invent your custom flavor combination and watch it built up in the 3D printer.

These machines are a wonderful combination of nostalgia and futurism. And they’re an experiential marketing blueprint for how the most inventive, technology-based marketing can interact with customers it the real world to leave a lasting impression.

Author: Thorin McGee

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

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