Brand: Nestle Toll House Candy Bars
Link: Click Here
Target: Model Moms
A press conference given by an attractive blonde ‘mother’ in an apron. The mother announces that Nestle worked with “moms like me” to create new Nestle Toll House Candy Bars with real Toll House morsels. The press reacts with confusion. “Looks delicious, what’s in the cookie?” the first reporter asks. The supermodel mom answers “It’s a candy bar,” and goes on to explain that it is made with Toll House morsels and the spot cuts to a product animation of chocolate being poured over the candy bar with a cookie center. “How long do you bake it?” asks another reporter. “You don’t – it’s a candy bar in the candy aisle,” answers supermodel mom. “Do I add an egg,” asks a third reporter and we see supermodel mom looking frustrated as the spot shifts to a packaging shot with a voiceover reinforcing the name.
The product animation is excellent, strong enough to send this reviewer scrambling through his desk to find a (nonexistant) candy bar.
Why do companies line extend? The theory is that you can extend the brand equity of the parent brand to the line extension (in this case, Nestle Toll House Candy Bars) and that the line extension will get quicker sales and add to the overall value of the brand. Sometimes this works spectacularly well – think Lysol Wipes – but more often they fail (do you remember Heineken Wine?).
When are line extensions appropriate? The simple answer is when the line extension enhances the core brand. Colgate TOTAL was a great line extension, because the addition of an product with an anti-gingivitis claim to the Colgate line strengthened the entire brand. Adidas Equipment helped return market leadership to Adidas by providing a sub-franchise for the most serious athletes.
Unfortunately, most line extensions in the U.S. marketplace are pursued for entirely different reasons. Most often, they boil down to cost and shelf presence. A line extension can be launched for as little as $5mm, often using just a FSI (free-standing insert coupon/ ad in the Sunday newspaper) without any other national advertising. To get full food/drug/mass merchandiser distribution for a new brand, companies must devote $30 to $100 million to promoting the brand which is a much larger financial risk. I should say that this is for a traditional launch where demand for the brand does not already exist. Iams (pet food sold initially through veterinarians) and Red Bull (club, extreme sports sampling) illustrate that it is not the only way to launch new product.
Nestle Toll House Candy Bars are an example of the worst kind of line extension. An extension that is counter-intuitive enough that the spot literally argues with the consumer. Toll House Candy Bars may in fact damage the Nestle Toll House franchise.
Line extensions like Nestel Toll House Candy Bars are to branding what ego-driven corporate acquisitions are to big business. There really isn’t much difference between Nestle launching Toll House Candy bars, hoping to extend Toll House to the candy aisle where Nestle can bring more merchandising power to bear and AOL buying Time Warner and producing a company worth a little less than, well – Time Warner.
The problems by the numbers:
- Skeptical Reporters = Confused Consumers – Whenever you see skeptics in a commercial, it means that the advertising agency knew that consumers would be confused by the unique selling proposition and resorted to explicitly answering consumer issues within the spot. This is a dead giveaway that the brand is trying to argue with consumers and that the line extension is not a good idea. A good example of this is Xerox’s decades long quest to be considered a computer company. “It doesn’t look like a Xerox machine,” one ad from the seventies said, showing a picture of a computer. And the consumer answer was “it’s not a Xerox machine.” Who would buy a computer from Xerox? You might dismiss this as an example of a bad product failing the brand, but remember that Xerox ran the legendary Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and invented many of the innovations (the graphic user interface which the Mac and Windows were based on, for one) to realize that it was a branding and not a product problem.
- The mother is not Mom – Obviously Nestle is not a sponsor of the Campaign for Real Beauty because they’ve picked a mother who looks like she would be more comfortable on a fashion runway than in a kitchen. Nestle needs to remember that what plays well below 14th Street in Manhattan won’t look the same in Oklahoma.
- Nestle is Fudging the Chocolate – In spite of all the protests, this product really looks like a cookie bar, not a candy bar. Nestle knows the difference and shouldn’t try to tell us otherwise. This spot has an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” undercurrent.
Branding Bottom Line -
Nestle listens to their category management, sales & financial people. And ignores the consumer.