Mars Wrigley’s virtual Halloween lets consumers collect candy credits in costumed avatars

Dive Brief:

  • Mars Wrigley, the confectioner behind brands like M&Ms, Snickers, Twix and Skittles, this week launched a month-long virtual Halloween experience called Treat Town, available via mobile apps and desktop, according to a press release.
  • In Treat Town, consumers can give out virtual candy credits while trick-or-treaters can “visit” family and friends to collect the credits redeemable for real-world treats via online and real-world retailers. Users can decorate virtual houses with Halloween-themed decor as well as visit digital attractions like Disney’s Haunted Mansion and a virtual No. 18 M&M’S Toyota car for a “trunk or treat” experience. Personal avatars can be chosen from options like vampires and monsters and dressed in costumes.
  • As parents and candy-givers question the safety of in-person trick-or-treating this year, the candy maker is serving up a month-long virtual alternative as part of a push that also includes partnerships with Disney, the National Safety Council and the Boys & Girls Club of America.

Dive Insight:

With communities across the country discouraging trick-or-treating, Treat Town provides an opportunity for Mars Wrigley to keep its brands top-of-mind and drive sales for a holiday that is a “mega-moment” for the company, Tanya Berman, the company’s head of seasonal marketing, said in a statement.

Mars Wrigley typically pulls out all the stops around Halloween but the marketer pivoted from its planned strategy after seeing how the COVID-19 pandemic affected Easter candy sales. Across the industry, candy sales were down 4.1% for Easter this year, according to Ad Age.

The company took the lessons learned from the pandemic’s effect on Easter to heart as Halloween approached, Tim LeBel, Mars Wrigley’s president of sales and chief Halloween officer, told CandyIndustry.com earlier this year. In response, the company created cross-functional teams with the goal of providing a variety of ways for consumers to participate in Halloween festivities, he told the publication.

At the same time, the marketer may have recognized that Halloween, which has been gaining in popularity over the recent past, could be a moment to bring some joy to consumers during a difficult year, with the announcement for Treat Town citing research indicating that 74% of parents say Halloween is more important than ever this year.

The resulting effort, Treat Town, points to how marketers are doubling down on digital experiences during the pandemic, when consumers are staying close to home and spending more via e-commerce. It could also be an early glimpse of what may be to come from marketers as the important Christmas holiday shopping season approaches.

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