- Russell Stover, the confectioner owned by Lindt & Sprüngli, will launch a virtual bunny hunt on April 6 within a broader social media campaign for Easter. "The Great Bunny Hunt" will challenge Instagram users to find chocolate bunnies hidden in photos posted to its @RussellStoverUS account, according to an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Instagram users who locate the bunnies can submit entries to TheGreatBunnyHunt.com, which goes live on April 6, for a chance to win a year of free Russell Stover treats and gift a friend or loved one. The deadline for entries is April 12, and a winner will be announced on April 16.
- Russell Stover also collaborated with GIF-sharing company Giphy to let consumers give "virtual hugs" to each other as the COVID-19 pandemic forces people to stay at home and limit physical contact. The chocolatier created a catalog of GIF video clips for people to share on social media with the hashtag #MakeHappy, as part of a national campaign to promote virtual hugs.
Russell Stover's social media campaigns arrive as millions of Americans face the possibility of not seeing loved ones on Easter, the biggest time of year for giving chocolate as a gift. The chocolatier's Instagram challenge and virtual hugs on Giphy give the brand a way to participate in conversations among consumers who have become much more reliant on social media to stay connected with friends and family during the pandemic.
Social media engagement has surged as much as 61% from normal usage rates in countries affected by COVID-19, according to researcher Kantar, giving brands like Russell Stover a way to connect with consumers online.
Russell Stover's spring holiday efforts signal how much the pandemic has disrupted its marketing during the key Easter shopping season. Last year, about eight out of 10 U.S. consumers were forecast to celebrate Easter, spending an average of $151 a person on items such as clothing, candy, cards and flowers, per the National Retail Federation. The group didn't publish a forecast this year because of the pandemic. If there is one bright spot for Russell Stover amid the shutdown of many retailers, the brand can still sell products online and at grocers, drugstores and mass merchants like Walmart and Target that remain open as essential businesses.
The chocolatier's push comes as other brands rework their marketing efforts during the pandemic. Cellular carrier T-Mobile this week urged customers to refrain from April Fools' jokes and instead show gratitude for people who are helping others cope with COVID-19. Cottonelle, the toilet paper brand marketed by Kimberly-Clark, this week launched a social campaign urging people to avoid hoarding its products. Ford, Honda, JanSport, Jimmy John's, Nike and Verizon also have pivoted their marketing strategies in the past month.