The NCA’s National Candy Month may be over for this year, but its tireless campaigning for the confectionery industry in North America is ongoing and as part of its ‘Thrive in 2025’ push, the Washington-headquartered organization has revealed a bold new visual identity and a refreshed website.
The new branding includes bright, candy-colored hues that capture the fun and unique nature of the confectionery industry to give ‘a stylized take on the classic treats enjoyed by millions of Americans each year’.
“Our updated visual identity modernizes our look and aligns NCA’s brand with the engaging and vibrant companies and products we represent,” said John Downs, NCA president & CEO.
NCA’s new visual identity is an integral component of NCA’s ‘Thrive in 2025’ strategic plan, which outlines priorities for the association over the next five years, as well as its new mission and vision.
The ‘Thrive in 2025’ strategic plan builds on NCA’s demonstrated advocacy, engagement and leadership, and focuses on distinguishing and differentiating the association in Washington by building a positive brand identity for the industry in North America, among other priorities.
The roadmap was, of course, drawn up before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and although the NCA had to adjust plans for this year, namely cancelling its Sweets & Snacks Expo in May, Christopher Gindlesperger, the NCA’s senior vice president of Public Affairs & Communications, said its strategic plan has not been redrawn per se.
“We have a five-year vision and a strategy for the longer term … there will always be unforeseen circumstances that come and challenge us, and with coronavirus we had to adapt really quickly, for example creating Sweets and Snacks on Demand, which is a year-long education series that has had a tremendous response from our members.”
Gindlesperger said the response to COVID-19 has been “absolutely amazing” (see panel) in helping communities, supporting frontline workers, taking care of employees and making sure facilities are safe for working in.
Examples of ways NCA member companies have worked within their communities during the pandemic:
- Perfetti Van Melle USA donated candy to first responders and worked with a local medical provider to source R95 masks for frontline health workers.
- Goetze’s Candy Company donated its iconic caramel sweets to staffers at seven local Maryland hospitals through its Ounce of Joy program.
- Mars, Inc. pledged $20 million in support of global coronavirus relief efforts and is offering free SNICKERS bars to essential workers nominated by friends and family.
- The Hershey Company has committed $1 million to create disposable face masks in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
- Jelly Belly Candy Company donated 1 million bags of jelly beans to first responders in conjunction with National Jelly Bean Day.
- See’s Candies donated more than 100 tons of Easter candy to hospitals and local charities.
- Godiva Chocolatier gifted over 600,000 pieces of chocolate to healthcare workers across the country, as well as donations of coffee and other treats.
- R.M. Palmer Company contributed product to its local food bank and Meals on Wheels chapter, and its team volunteered to meet the growing demand of these organizations.
- Galerie donated over 7,000 Easter treats to local health workers in Cincinnati, OH.
- Mondelēz pledged $15 million in support for its local community partners to help offset the need caused by the coronavirus.
- Splendid Chocolates donated product to its local food bank and hospitals.
- World’s Finest Chocolate committed to donating up to 10 million chocolate bars to frontline health workers.
- Madelaine Chocolate Company distributed chocolate to frontline health workers and other essential workers during the pandemic.
- Frankford Candy handed out more than 1,000 bags filled with candy to thank healthcare workers in the Philadelphia area.
- The Promotion In Motion Companies, Inc. donated more than 1.2 million pouches of its Welch’s Fruit Snacks to Feeding America.
- Kimmie Candy Company contributed product alongside a group of local businesses to support hospital workers and first responders in Northern Nevada.
- Ferrara Candy Company contributed 20 tons of cookies to front line workers.
The NCA has also prided itself in being a leading voice regarding nutrition, a message that is even more crucial in these stressful times as consumers look for comfort with indulgent snacking. Its Always a Treat campaign promotes healthy consumption of candy, encouraging smaller pack sizes, for example, and it is a trend that is continuing during lockdown.
Consumers purchasing behavior has changed and in the US they have got into the habit of ‘pantry-stocking’ - choosing chocolate and candy as treats as part of the shop and buying multi-packs with individual wrapped items for longer shelf-life.
National Candy Month
The NCA has also designated June as the annual ‘Candy Month’, a new promotional feature estimated to be worth $500m as it plugs the gap between the key markets of Easter and Halloween. The initiative is still in development but despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus this year three of its retail partners launched successful pilot schemes said Gindlesperger.
“Three retail partners - two grocery and one convenience - got really creative, from employee engagement, in-store promotion, social and digital promotion, the campaigns came to life in hundreds of stores across country,” he said.
The NCA’s mission on its website reads: ‘Chocolate and candy are celebrated for their contributions to our culture, our society, our economy and our everyday moments of joy’.
Black Lives Matter
Social unrest in the United States (as well as in other countries) has not gone unnoticed by the NCA and other big candy companies such as Mars and the American Liquorice Company, who have all spoken out or given support to the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a statement on the NCA website, Downs wrote: “As business leaders, we have an opportunity to use our influence to create a stronger economy, uplift our communities and contribute to a better planet. Over the past week, we have all seen the gut-wrenching and soul-crushing videos and protests advocating for racial equality that have swept the country. Here in Washington, we have seen and heard the protests across our city first hand.
“In my discussions with many of our member companies over the past week, I have heard stories of helplessness and hopelessness in the face of these protests, particularly as they come in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without a doubt, we are facing radical uncertainty. But it is important now more than ever to practice the principles of inclusion that we value as an association and as an industry. Today we can affirm that we see and hear the pain and inequalities facing African Americans across this country and that black lives matter.”
Gindlesperger said: “It’s a major movement and important for everyone to be mindful of, we are the forum to bring them together for discussions regarding directions for the industry, those conversations are happening now, the topic was raised at a recent virtual board meeting.
“We are a purpose-driven industry and there are opportunities for companies to show real leadership.”
In his statement, Downs said: “We’re all Americans, and it’s time for each of us to take responsibility to bring our country together to address these challenges head-on. Solving this will require deep political structural and cultural changes. I have faith that the confectionery industry will be a part of the solution for the communities that we serve, and I hope to see a brighter, more peaceful and more equitable future for our country on the other side.”
The Sweet Life
As the NCA gears up for the crucial Halloween season, its new branding is visible on its refreshed website, which features a streamlined layout and updated content dedicated to communicating NCA’s policy priorities and providing resources for its member companies.
The new look will also be visible on The Sweet Life, the NCA’s award-winning video streaming series, which it hopes to continue once the coronavirus restrictions ease.