In April Hershey announced that its sales of breath mints and chewing gum had declined by over 40% to 50% from beginning of March as people obeyed coronavirus lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.
"The gum and mint category has been significantly impacted by social distancing," Hershey's CEO Michele Buck told analysts and investors after the confectionery giant's first-quarter earnings call on 23 April.
The downturn in the category was the result of consumers buying brands such as Breath Savers and Ice Breakers to combat their bad breath when they go on dates, meeting up with friends and family or chewing while at work.
"These categories are much more functional than emotional, and they've experienced declines of 40% to 50% over the past several weeks," Buck said.
Moving on a month and the reality is that masks have emerged as a COVID-19 necessity and one of the unexpected effects of health measures and guidelines in wearing them is bad breath - also known as ‘mask breath’.
Hershey’s in-house analytics team conducted a quick survey on mask wearing and results showed that 89% of respondents are wearing masks in the United States.
Acting swiftly, Ryan Riess, head of Hershey’s in-house creative team C-Sweet, pulled together a TV Ad for Ice Breakers under the banner: #MintBeforeYouMask. He describes it as a light-hearted campaign that thanks the public for wearing a mask and reminds them to protect themselves from the unintended consequence of bad breath.
Reiss says it was inspired by an insight discovered by a Hershey employee and a member of his family, who works as part of the healthcare system and took less than two weeks to create.
“We want to be cognizant and respectful to what consumers are going through and what their needs are,” says Riess. “That often means changing plans at a moment’s notice, something that’s a lot simpler to do with an in-house agency.”
Earlier this month, The Hershey Company, announced that they have donated millions in cash, product donations and resources to support COVID-19 response and committed $1 million to acquire, install and staff a new manufacturing line dedicated to the production of disposable facemasks. Ice Breakers mints are also now included in all product donations.