Supplier Spotlights: Swedish Match, Strongbow & American Licorice

NATIONAL REPORT — While it's important for convenience store retailers to market themselves, new products, services, promotions and other initiatives by c-store industry suppliers are a major part of capturing consumer interest. Convenience Store News will regularly highlight such efforts in this roundup.

Here are the latest supplier spotlights:

American Licorice Co.

Celebrating more than 100 years in the candy-making business, American Licorice announced the winners of its 2015 Broker Management Awards. Top performers were honored in the areas of New Item Distribution, Spirit of Achievement, and Broker of the Year.

Shankman and Associates Inc. won Broker of the Year based on its ability to deliver on assigned customer quotas and item distribution objectives for the fiscal year. 

Crossmark C-Store (McLane Team) won in New Item Distribution based on total accounts placed, as well as achievement of new item sales above broker percentage of total sales. 

SummitHill Sales & Marketing Inc. won in the Spirit of Partnership category based on the organization's ability to align with American Licorice's core values and demonstrate the ability to handle all the aspects of managing its business

"We are fortunate to work with some of the best brokers in the industry, all of whom play an essential role in growing our business, which makes the selection process for these awards difficult at times," said Jennifer Martin, vice president of sales. "Our valued partners who took home the top prizes this year exemplified best-in-class service and performance, and we are pleased to be able to recognize their efforts and achievements."

Carma Laboratories Inc.

Carma Labratories, the manufacturer of Carmex Lip Balm and Carmex Cold Sore Treatment, announced a multi-year partnership with the Green Bay Packers football team that brings together two strong Wisconsin businesses and officially identifies Carmex as a trusted partner of the Green Bay Packers.

"We are excited to team up with the Green Bay Packers," stated Jona Mancuso, marketing director for the Carmex brand. "This is an incredible opportunity to connect Carmex with dedicated football fans across the nation. Football is one of the most popular sports in North America and our partnership with the Packers makes perfect sense as we continue to grow together. Also, given the cold weather conditions at Green Bay's Lambeau Field, Carmex products are perfect to have on hand to help relieve dry, chapped lips."

To support the partnership, Carmex will help create fun and memorable fan experiences at three home games with a tent that features Carmex product giveaways and a special appearance by the Carmex mascot.

Fans can also enter the #CarmexSuperfan social media promotion by uploading a picture to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter that illustrates how their favorite Carmex product helps them get ready for the big game.

Mars Chocolate North America

Mars Chocolate's Snickers brand and Wrigley's Skittles brand will both return to the biggest game in football with all-new commercials that will air on Feb. 7 during Super Bowl 50 on CBS. The brands are also launching the company's first joint in-store promotion leveraging their status as official NFL sponsors to "Make Super Bowl 50 Even Sweeter."

Snickers will return to the game with a 30-second "You're Not You When You're Hungry" commercial produced by BBDO New York and supported with a fully integrated marketing campaign.

"The Super Bowl is an iconic event that the Snickers brand is excited to be part of again," said Allison Miazga-Bedrick, director, Snickers brand. "We can't wait to get back in the game again this year, and we plan to pull out all the stops to satisfy America's hunger to watch another great Super Bowl commercial from Snickers."

Skittles will follow up on last year's commercial, where two men agreed to "Settle It" with an arm wrestling match for the last lemon Skittles candy, with another commercial produced by DDB Chicago.

"We had an amazing rookie Super Bowl experience, so we're thrilled to be back," said Matt Montei, senior marketing director, confections and seasonal at Wrigley. "Once again, we have dozens of awesome integrated activities planned for our Super Bowl party this year, with the ad serving as our grand finale."

The joint promotion kicks off Dec. 28 and will encourage consumers to text SWEET50 to 87654 for the chance to win instant prizes and to enter a grand-prize sweepstakes. Instant-win prizes range from $75 e-gift cards to free Snickers, M&M'S, Twix, 3 Musketeers, Milky Way, Skittles and/or Starburst brand singles.

The grand-prize package includes everything a fan needs to host the ultimate Super Bowl party including a $2,000 electronics gift card, a $600 prepaid debit card and a $250 e-gift card.

In other Mars Chocolate news, the company recently partnered with 10 teams from advertising agency network BBDO who were challenged to help Twix translate its "Left Twix/Right Twix" fictional rivalry strategy into powerful global storytelling that crosses borders. In a special global Create-A-Thon, BBDO teams from Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and United States created and produced ads at YouTube spaces located in London, Los Angeles, New York and São Paulo.

The ads were tested in three international markets, in the U.S., U.K. and Netherlands, and evaluated for their ability to drive thru-rates and ad recall using YouTube's proprietary TrueView format. The best-performing ad was determined by summing all scores across all three markets. Based on the findings of the experiment, Twix is giving strong consideration how to best to use this successful content on a global basis, as well as how to apply the agile production learnings and implementation for future Twix and other Mars brand projects.

"As we drive toward achieving growth, we are proud of being a bold fast-mover. Thinking globally and taking creative risks is critical to our success," said Jane Wakely, global chief marketing officer, Mars Chocolate. "In partnering with BBDO and YouTube on this experiment, together we were able to further elevate our TWIX message through powerful storytelling told visually, via agile content creation and across borders."

Strongbow Hard Apple Ciders

The 2015 World Cider Championships, hosted by the Beverage Testing Institute, awarded Strongbow's portfolio of hard ciders with four medals. Strongbow Gold Apple and Strongbow Honey received a gold medal in the Common Cider and Specialty Cider categories, respectively. The newest flavors, Strongbow Ginger and Strongbow Red Berries, took home a silver medal in the Specialty Cider and Fruit Cider categories.

The World Cider Championships is hosted in collaboration with the World Beer Championships, and the two serve as the nation's oldest international beer and cider competition. All commercially produced beers and ciders can enter and are scored with a blind tasting methodology developed by the Beverage Testing Institute's

Based on a 100-point quality scale, products achieving a score from 90-95 are Gold Medal winners and considered "Exceptional" choices, while products achieving a score from 85-89 are deemed Silver Medal winners and considered "Highly Recommended" options.

"It is a great honor to be recognized with Gold Medals for the second year in a row for our Strongbow Gold Apple and Strongbow Honey flavors, as well as our Silver Medals for our newest innovations in the competition, Strongbow Ginger and Strongbow Red Berries," stated Strongbow Brand Director Alejandra de Obeso. "Receiving these awards from one of the most prestigious competitions in the world is a testament to Strongbow's 128-year-old expertise in producing high-quality ciders with exceptional recipes and taste. We are constantly exploring new ways to surprise our fans and their friends with delicious flavors everyone can enjoy, especially when served over ice."

Swedish Match North America

Swedish Match launched a new website at The site provides both consumers and trade partners with an easy-to-navigate portal for all the company's Natural Leaf Brands, as well as small- and large-format cigars.

"Natural Leaf brand cigars are a major player in the cigar category and we've built the new website to ensure the brand's presence online is just as prominent as it is in-store," said Ryan Krasner, Swedish Match Natural Leaf Brand manager. "The site is a platform to educate and engage both consumers and trade partners about the Natural Leaf difference and the craftsmanship, quality and innovation that goes along with it."

The new site features a dynamic display that sorts products primarily by brand, and then by flavor and format, as well as new and upcoming limited-edition flavors to keep both consumers and trade partners up-to-date on the latest product releases.

The site will serve as a resource for Game, Game Leaf, Garcia y Vega and 1882 sampling events, and provide an opportunity for site visitors to contact Game cigars with any questions about products or brands.

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