Thanks in part to a long deal with The Simpsons, everybody knows the old Butterfinger tagline, “Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger.” But since the height of that partnership in the late ’90s and early 2000s, the brand’s visibility and popularity have taken a hit.
Ferrero, which bought Butterfinger (and the entire chocolate portfolio) from Nestlé in 2018, is out to change that. Over the past couple years, the brand’s gotten a packaging refresh and higher quality ingredients, and now it’s getting a new cast of characters.
In a new ad campaign by agency Piro released today, the brand brings a whole new backstory to the meaning of that familiar phrase—and a team to track down the thieves that don’t live up to it.
In a five-minute mini film debuting online and shortened versions for digital and TV spots, fans are introduced to the Butterfinger Investigators, or the BFI. The crime-fighting duo of Hugh Dunnit (played by The Blacklist’s Amir Arison) and Ali Bye (Alexandria Benford) have dedicated their lives to tracking down and stopping the Butterfinger snatching perpetrators. Spoiler alert: It’s always the grandma.
The short feels like an over-the-top spoof of a classic detective show, along the lines of The Naked Gun, Get Smart or even Ace Ventura, movies that Arison said were some of his favorites growing up. It doesn’t take itself seriously, but the actors certainly do—at least in the final cut. The filming process was filled with laughs and character breaks, according to Arison.
“I’ve never enjoyed making a commercial more,” said Arison. They had to film parts of the script without making eye contact, he said, because they just couldn’t keep from giggling.
Arison worked closely with Piro co-founder and director Tim Piper, who wrote and directed the spot, to build out the character and background story.
“I’ll follow him anywhere with his writing and his comedy,” said Arison. “It’s rare to meet someone that cool and generous and collaborative.”
For Mark Wakefield, svp of marketing for Nutella and chocolate snacks at Ferrero, the new campaign is a way to reintroduce the nearly 100-year-old brand to consumers in a way that respects Butterfinger’s history and personality while introducing a more modern twist.
“We went back to the DNA of the Butterfinger product,” said Wakefield. In addition to the “crisp-ity, crunch-ity, peanut buttery” flavor of the candy, the brand has always had a kind of cheeky and irreverent personality, he said. With that goal, the riff on a dramatic detective show felt like a perfect fit.
The brand’s also rolling out a Halloween-specific aspect to the campaign in the coming weeks, asking parents to turn themselves in for stealing the Butterfingers out of their kids’ candy stash. By turning themselves in, thieves will get a chance to win $25,000.