Reese's Pieces Peanut Butter Cups were scheduled for a new product launch in Summer 2016: the mashup of two popular candies—Reese's Pieces candy stuffed inside a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup—could be counted on to generate interest from devoted brand fans and trade press, but no advanced drumbeats activated, no PR activities were planned.
Then confusion hit. A photo of the unreleased product was leaked on a personal Facebook account without the brand's knowledge or permission and suddenly Reese's Pieces Peanut Butter Cups were a hot topic on social media. The product wouldn't be on shelves for months. The leaked photo now had nearly 40,000 shares, and social media speculation had upstaged the planned launch.
How could the brand take back control of its own product? How could we turn confusion into opportunity?
#Cupfusion played off two concepts: the confusion of consumers who didn't know if the product was real or fantasy; and the fusion of two of Reese's most beloved and iconic products, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Reese's Pieces candy. We would tease social media with branded memes and messages that fell just short of official pronouncements, feeding a fresh wave of speculation and sharing. The campaign would enlist an emoji-inspired graphic—Cupmoji—as its main asset, and most importantly, would maintain constant social listening and analysis to determine how far to push the prank.
The official announcement post on Facebook received nearly 750,000 views in less than 24 hours—topping out at 1.3M views. And media took notice. Within a few days, the news reached more than 1.1 billion people through online news stories and in national and local broadcast segments. The online conversation generated 43 million social impressions and 2.2 million engagements.
And the playful confusion led to real business results. In the weeks following the PR blitz, retailers inundated The Hershey Company sales team with calls asking how soon they could receive the now infamous Reese's Pieces Peanut Butter Cups. Since the launch of #Cupfusion, volume expectations increased more than 200 percent, far surpassing original projections.