Reese creates a not-so-secret society

Who: Hershey Canada with Anomaly.

What: A social campaign built around something called The Reese Society, which cryptically invites people to create their own content about the beloved Reese Peanut Butter Cups without telling them what they might get in return.

When & Where: The campaign went live two weeks ago, targeting adults 18 to 35 with paid social posts. It will run through the rest of the year.

Why: Reese already has very high awareness and plenty of loyal brand fans. “People have a cult like affinity for it,” said Marko Pandza, Anomaly’s associate creative director.

However, Hershey wanted to create a tangible manifestation of that brand love while also strengthening its connections to existing fans. “And for them to show their brand love to their followers who are maybe higher in the sales or brand funnel, and to really motivate them to pick up Reese as well,” said Carly Watson, account supervisor at Anomaly.

How: The conceit is that Reese fans are being invited to join a secret society, although they aren’t sure how they’ll get in or what even happens if they do. The society is actually not-so-secret, but Reese fans have shown that they’re willing to play along.

“The concept was really rooted in this notion that telling people not to do their favourite thing, not to participate in anything Reese related, would actually be a motivator for them,” said Pandza.

Creative tells people not to visit the site, and not to provide their Instagram handle or email, and not to make their own Reese content. Suggestions of what not to do include painting your room orange, changing your Instagram name to include Reese, or writing and performing a poem or song about Reese.

So it’s all about UCG? On the one hand this is a straightforward user-generated content play, but people aren’t sure why or what it’s for. Despite that, many Reese fans have proven willing to play along. “Every single KPI that we had on the brief was beat in the first seven days of the campaign,” said Watson.

Like what? More than 4,800 posts so far, which Anomaly says is 1,500% greater than the forecast for the entire campaign. Reese’s Instagram following has grown by 17% and its Twitter following by 15%, while website visits are 380% above the target.  

Where does it go from here? An earlier iteration of the society launched last year by sending Reese merchandise to a select group of about 30 influencers. This is about turning that program into a much bigger platform without saying what it’s actually for. “It’s kind of like this is our call for new members, but how many exactly we’re going to induct is a secret,” said Pandza.

And we quote: “It’s hard to get people to do anything. You can dangle a carrot, like ‘win a trip,’ and you still won’t get any engagement or any people doing anything. We’re telling people that something doesn’t exist. We’re asking them to basically give us their Instagram handle and they don’t know why… and people are doing all this crazy stuff and they’re responding.” —Jason Kerr, Anomaly associate creative director.

David Brown