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How To Sell Candy Without Selling Candy

One of the most important things I’ve ever learned about sales is that you rarely sell your actual product. Tool manufacturers don’t sell drills, they sell perfect holes. Porsche doesn’t sell cars, they sell status, self-esteem, personal validation, or sex appeal. A litigator doesn’t sell lawsuits, they sell anything from assured health coverage to sweet sweet revenge against an ex-spouse.

So what does a candy company sell? Some commercials in recent memory advertise better moods, satisfaction, and relief from hunger. But recently I saw a set of candy bar commercials that sell something completely removed from the product itself.

3 Musketeers’ latest campaign is called Throw Shine, and it debuted with the following playlist: watch the first three videos here, then come back. The first video tells the story of a boy working up the nerve to say hello to a new girl at his school. After multiple failed attempts to get her attention, he gives her a candy bar that says “you are awesome.” The video ends right after the new girl shyly introduces herself. Part two tells the same story, but from the new student’s perspective. And part three features the student ambassador and her older sister’s art project. (Seriously, watch the videos, they are precious!)

These ads are brilliant because the products they’re selling have absolutely nothing to do with candy, or even food. First, they draw you in with highly relatable experiences and emotions: a teenage crush, first day nerves, blossoming friendships, family love, creative blocks, and more. Then they show how their product can bring you an intangible but highly valuable thing we all want: a connection with others. 3 Musketeers is saying, “our product will help you work up the nerve to talk to someone you like. It will make you feel welcome when you are vulnerable. It will tell your family that you care. It will inspire you to create something beautiful. Buying our product will enable you to bring light and happiness to your life.” That’s a pretty powerful promise from the most boring candy bar on the market. Is it ambitious and a bit absurd? Is it slightly ripping off Coke? Perhaps, but 3 Musketeers gets away with it because you’ve got such a big grin on your face after watching the ads.

What are you telling potential clients through your marketing efforts? Do they think you sell a candy bar or something much more valuable? In my next post, I’ll explain how messages about chocolate translate to the world of professional services.


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