Reese’s asks fans how they handle a familiar problem

Who: Hershey Canada’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup brand, with Anomaly for creative (with an assist from LeBron James), and UM for media.

What: A campaign based on the idea that fans of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups instantly recognize the wrapper, and are familiar with the experience of unwrapping a cup—or “uncupping” it—to find a smudge of chocolate and peanut butter left behind. So much so that they only had to show the wrapper, without the Peanut Butter Cup, to connect with consumers.

When & Where: It started early last month, rolling out across different channels throughout the month—including an “uncupping” video and a large billboard in downtown Toronto.

Why: Hershey’s has played up the rituals and reverence of Peanut Butter Cup fans in the past couple of years (including 2019’s ASMR campaign Reese The Movie: A Movie About Reese). This campaign retains that emphasis, while focusing on the thin layer of leftover chocolate and peanut butter that can stick to the wrapper, and what people do about it.

According to Hershey’s, people are passionate about whether it’s good or bad—and they’re passionate about it because they love the product so much. “This campaign aligns with our strategy to drive a deeper emotional connection with consumers, and what better way to do this than by leaning into a consumer tension that already exists,” said Reese’s marketing manager, Azim Akhtar, in a release.

How: Social media frames the question about the leftover chocolate and peanut better as a debate between those who prefer “sticky” and those who favour “clean.” The video begins with someone removing the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup from the wrapper which floats to the ground—accompanied by the Lady Wray song “Piece of me.” It ends with a finger moving in to scrape up the left over bit of chocolate and peanut butter.

The billboard, meanwhile, simply features the wrapper on the bright orange background of Reese’s with no other copy. Combined with the familiarity of the leftover chocolate and peanut butter, the image alone is evocative enough to deliver the only message Hershey’s and Anomaly needed.

“Leaning into the iconic status of the Reese Peanut Butter Cup, we wanted to spark conversation with our loyal fan base around what kind of uncupping makes them happiest. Sticky or clean?,” explained Pete Breton, executive creative director and partner at Anomaly. “It’s a big, simple idea that comes right out of how Reese fans enjoy the product.”

What did LeBron do? According to Hershey’s, the idea was inspired in part by the basketball star engaging with some NBA fans who suggested the bald spot on the back of his head looked like a Peanut Butter Cup wrapper. A meme was created, and James himself responded that he hated when his Peanut Butter Cup did that (although he ate it anyway).

“LeBron’s post solidified the idea that even if we remove our most iconic asset, the Peanut Butter Cup, from our advertising, consumers will still immediately understand that it is unmistakably Reese’s,” said Akhtar. “LeBron’s post had thousands of likes and comments, but we could sense consumers’ love—and hate—of the chocolate and peanut butter that’s left over. But it was also clear that whether it’s a ‘sticky cup’ or a ‘clean cup,’ the passion for the product never wavered.”

David Brown