Becoming a CMO is a sweet job, but in Peter Horst‘s case, leading the marketing at Hershey comes with a tough mandate.
Earlier this year the company reported a 5% drop in quarterly sales, which was larger than expected and, along with weak demand in North America, prompted the company to cut its full-year sales forecast five times last year and to launch a cost-cutting program.
Speaking at the American Marketing Association’s 2016 Collegiate Competition in New Orleans, Horst said the chocolate maker was keeping pace with many other companies by pursuing what he called “a much more multi-channel marketing game plan,” which means shifting investments and in some cases increasing investment in key brands. The emphasis, he said, is looking beyond its chocolates and other candies in and of themselves and paying more attention to the emotional resonance they may have on its target audience.
“They’ve played important roles in their lives, they have deep memories,” he said. “Rather than talk about delicious chocolate, we’re focusing on the power of the brands to bring people together and the happiness of those special little moments.”
Horst refers to the company’s latest ads in the AMA interview, one of which launched just last month and told the story of a busy parent-child relationship.
Horst, who has just passed his one-year anniversary with Hershey, said the company had also “revised its agency roster” to build strength in digital social and experiential marketing. Data-driving targeting will also be a key capability in the months ahead, he added.