Brand of the Day: Peeps Trains Its Eagle Eye on Christmas

But can Hot Cocoa Peeps really replace gingerbread?

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Candy canes rule Christmas, M&Ms have a lock on Halloween, and for Easter there are Peeps. In fact, even if you don't observe Easter, chances are you know Peeps—the sugar-coated marshmallow dollops intended to resemble baby chicks. The leading treat of the Just Born Candy Co., Peeps turned 60 last year. And while plenty of people eat Peeps all year round (the Pennsylvania factory burps out 4.2 million of them per day), corporate wants Peeps to take wing.

"Our ultimate goal is to get Christmas to the size of Easter," Kathy Parker, Just Born's vp of marketing and innovation, recently told the Wall Street Journal. Peeps still does most of its volume in early April, but Just Born has been quietly nudging both R&D and marketing dollars toward other holidays—rolling out cold-weather flavors like red velvet and hot cocoa, and marking off 80 percent of the ad budget for non-Easter promos, including Christmas and Independence Day.

Peeps… in July? Parker knows it'll take some doing. "Most snacking and confection companies go from everyday into seasonal," she added. "We’re almost going in reverse." Still, Peeps had a killer year in 2012, breaking the 1 billion Peep mark. And a Facebook survey revealed that many Americans like their Peeps fresh, frozen, and "aged to perfection."

Social Media Profile (as of 12/2/14)

Facebook Likes: 324,240

Twitter Followers: 17,700

Instagram Followers: 2,000

The brand has a solid fan base on most of its social platforms and communicates with fans regularly. Just last year Peeps used its social platforms to target moms who use the candy for crafting. But nothing the brand does holds a candle to the weird YouTube trend of various fans microwaving or devouring as many Peeps as possible (see below).

Recent Advertising

The "Every Day is a Holiday" spot above is part of the brand's quest to break out of the Easter niche.  

Fast Facts

  • Peeps' 50th anniversary in 2003 was recognized in a speech on the floor of Congress.
  • In the 1950s, Peeps were made by hand in a process that took 27 hours.
  • Yellow is the most popular color of Peeps.
  • Martha Stewart offers a recipe for Peeps at home. 
  • Following the tradition of Oscar Mayer and Spam, Peeps uses a promotional vehicle (a literal one) called the Peepsmobile.

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: December 3, 2014 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT