Oh Henry! Leading the Evolution of Candy in a New Cannabis Market

Marketing has always been a shifting, evolving concept. As our society changes, the way we do business changes making it necessary for marketing to evolve in tandem. If your business doesn’t evolve, it won’t survive and the strategy for your marketing tactics needs to be well thought out. Remember the 2015 Bud Light #UpForAnything campaign? This campaign hoped to embody a carefree, fun night out with friends, tapping into Millennial #FOMO (fear of missing out). Bud Light included fun messages on cans and bottles of their beer as part of this campaign. Except it backfired horribly when a consumer noticed one of the slogans on the can was “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary.” Certainly Bud Light’s intentions were not to advocate for ignoring consent; however, in a time of #MeToo and increased awareness on consent and predatory sexual culture, this can represented a moment of tone deafness. Bud Light removed the cans from production, but the damage was done. Social media exploded with comments about the can and slowed sales of the American beer.

Another company that is a household name is the Oh Henry! candy bar. Last month, we brought you  this blog on Oh Henry’s new 425 bar . The 425 bar is their newest candy bar product and has been paired with a cheeky marketing campaign to get profitably involved in the emerging cannabis industry. When established companies take a risk with their marketing strategy it can improve their market share by delighting, humouring, or shocking their customers. However, sometimes it can diminish their market share by scaring, alienating, or dividing their customer base. And, potentially, their shareholders, too.

We shared the Oh Henry! 425 candy bar story with our audience to gain their perspective on this product launch. We wanted to know whether it was delightful or alienating for Oh Henry! to go green. We were surprised by the feedback!

Overall, our audience was thoroughly impressed by Oh Henry!’s “ability to hash out marketing ideas, especially those that are jointly crafted”.  It is not yet clear whether their 425 bar sales will exceed internal expectations or not, but surely recreational cannabis users will be delighted by yet another tasty treat to have when “the munchies” strike. What is clear is Oh Henry! is evolving as a brand, connecting with new audiences and leading the way for other food brands as each learns how to participate in the arising recreational cannabis industry.

So far, it appears this is a successful marketing strategy on Oh Henry!’s part – especially since the cannabis industry is already worth $31B in Canada. They are able to enjoy a piece of the cannabis market pie without competing for direct sales or facing the complicated advertising restrictions that come along with it.

Risky marketing strategies do not always surprise and delight a customer base. It’s possible for it to backfire and alienate customers and non-customers alike. Perhaps you recall a Pepsi commercial from 2017? Starring an up-and-coming model by the name of Kendall Jenner?

In case you forgot the ad, or have not seen it, you can view it here.

While we know that it was Pepsi’s internal creative team, The Creators League Studio, who dreamt up the concept; their intention of a zeitgeist-inspired message of universal love, unity, and acceptance missed the mark (by lightyears, no less). Co-opting political movements, like Black Lives Matter, to sell product is never a great call. Quickly dubbed “the worst ad of all time”, it took nine months for Pepsi’s brand perception to recover with Millennial audiences after the ad aired.

When companies take a risk with their advertising – whether it be launching a non-edible edible – it can certainly pay off. However, your risk must be carefully calculated. Understanding your audience, what they want, and where they are going will prevent damage to your brand and sales.

Leading the evolution of marketing will take brave, insightful, measured marketers who can evolve with the changing society and business landscapes we now live in.

Does your business have the insight to keep up and evolve? If you know where you’re going, but you’re not sure how to get there, give us a call today. We would love to help you evolve.

A case for value-based content

While writing this article I had reason to check my Yahoo email at intervals and, annoyingly, the nine (9) messages at the top of my inbox at one point were, you guessed it, promotional junk.

“Earn double points” blah, blah, blah. “Wow! $9.99 dress shirts!” “Up to 25% off ends tonight”. “60% off contemporary looks”. “Last chance to get $30 off your purchase of $100 or more”. “75% off all clearance items”. “50% off all dresses”. “You don’t want to miss this deal”. And the list went on.

And you may wonder if I even opened those messages. The answer is ‘no’… well except for the ‘75% off all clearance items’ bait that came from a children’s store at a time when my little one is overdue a wardrobe upgrade.

I must admit, however, that a number of these messages are from apparel retailers to whom I had willingly, but naively, given my email address in exchange for “exclusive” savings and other offerings — a major regret I might add.

Except for the occasional hard-to-resist snare, these messages end up somewhere in the cyber dump as every other weekend or so I find myself hosting a grand ‘block’ party — trashing promotional emails that Yahoo hasn’t yet marked as spam and attempting to bar their senders from cluttering my inbox further with unwanted content.  

I take pleasure in undertaking these mass deletions as the messages offer very little value — all screaming “sell, sell, sell”. Except for the truly compulsive buyer, I hardly feel that I am alone in viewing these messages as more invasive than beneficial.

We can all agree that selling features and benefits is the nexus of product differentiation. According to marketing textbooks, attention-grabbing content is key to lead generation as per modern-day strategies. But is the content embedded in your marketing collateral what your target audience really wants?

Take a step back to the email examples above: what if, at least, one offered something of value… like tips on how to care for and extend the life of the items I bought? Content offering solutions to a problem I am faced with, perhaps? Most likely my reaction would have been different.

To borrow a quote from United States-based marketing guru, Joe Chernov, “your top of the funnel content must be intellectually divorced from your product but emotionally wed to it.” In other words, the goal of your content should be more about creating value for your customers. Sell, but subtly.

Creating content that offers value

If you are a boss interior decorator or a skilled makeup artist who can magically transform spaces and faces from the cliched ‘drab to fab’ within minutes, consider how many more prospects you could pull to your website if your inbound marketing content focused on space improvement and makeup application tips for the ‘Average Jane’.

That’s the genesis of value-based content. The goal is not to give away all your expert knowledge for free, but to create value, you need to exchange places with that of your target audience for a moment and put deep thought into what sort of content they might be searching for.

Here are some tips for your next content marketing assignment:

  • Join the discussion. With the Internet and social media, it’s easy to find out what the main topics of discussion around your industry are and align your content with what’s ‘trending’.
  • Offering guidance through your content can build trust in your brand.
  • Ensure that whatever content you put out conforms with branding guidelines as even third-party content that you curate will be viewed as an endorsement by your brand.
  • Offer quality content. Always keep on top of the mind how much damage less than stellar content can do to the reputation of your brand.
  • Engage. Engage. Engage. Making your content engaging is so much easier these days as social media and other Internet tracking tools can help you determine quickly if your content is a hit or miss.
  • Make it interactive. Always ensure that your content-sharing platform is interactive and allows you to interact with people who respond to your call to action.

The truth is, content that is value-based will most likely get the right clients interested in your product or service and thus push the growth of your business. As marketing speaker Andrew Davis puts it: “Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”

As an IMPACT agency, we have helped countless clients to develop content that offers value. We are ready and willing to do the same for you. Book a free consultation now and start taking your marketing activities to the next level.