Seban: Hostess snack cake sales outpacing ‘most ambitious projections’

by Eric Schroeder
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KANSAS CITY — Hostess Brands, L.L.C. said it is experiencing “record demand for products,” which returned to store shelves on July 15 after a half-year hiatus. According to the Kansas City-based snack cake maker, sales already were seven times greater than historic levels and orders were three to six times greater than production capacity, which has been running at maximum levels.

The company said it was informed by numerous retailers that product sold out within hours of the snack cakes being displayed. With 50 million Twinkies and 35 million CupCakes already projected to be on store shelves during the first two weeks of the comeback, new orders have been placed representing an additional 100 million units for just those two snack cakes alone, Hostess said.

“We knew this comeback would be historic and interest would be significant,” said Rich Seban, president of Hostess Brands, L.L.C. “But the demand has far outpaced even our most ambitious projections. We are running our bakeries at their fullest capacity and are doing everything possible to make sure we are fulfilling orders to our retail partners as quickly as possible so they can replenish their shelves for eager consumers. We are asking members of the public to be patient. If your store is out of your favorite snack cake, please rest assured that we are doing everything we can to resupply our customers as soon as possible.”

Hostess Brands is baking snack cakes at four bakeries: Emporia, Kas.; Schiller Park, Ill.; Indianapolis; and Columbus, Ga. Its initial line-up of products includes Twinkies, CupCakes, DingDongs, Donettes, HoHos, Zingers, fruit pies and mini muffins. Not all products are available at all stores immediately, Hostess said.

The strong initial sales at least partially have been spurred by an aggressive large-scale marketing campaign led by Kansas City-based Bernstein-Rein.

The ad agency kicked off the campaign June 24 with a countdown clock at HostessCakes.com. The site’s running clock ticked off the hours, minutes and seconds until the return of Hostess’ products on July 15.

Other promotion efforts include bold outdoor advertisements featuring iconic Hostess products in high-visibility placements in New York (a giant Twinkie billboard in Times Square), Chicago and Los Angeles (a CupCakes billboard), as well as Kansas City. Marketing team members also have been handing out “I saved the Twinkie” buttons, and the ad agency incorporated launch-related packaging, including the tagline “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever,” and point of sale design.

Social media also has played a role in Hostess’ latest marketing blitz. Through the web site prepareyourcakeface.com, Hostess is encouraging fans to post Instagram and Vine videos of themselves enjoying their favorite Hostess snack. The company then is using its Twitter feed to push the videos and images out to its fans.

A Twinkies food truck that is set to tour the United States and give out snack cakes debuted on July 15 in New York.

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READER COMMENTS (3)

By walkman56 7/19/2013 11:15:13 AM
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that Rayburn was put there to close the company. The Teamsters threw him a curve when they accepted yet another concession. That being said,I was a Teamster,I cannot blame the bakers for striking after all that money was stolen from them and once again no one in corporate America hears the bars close behind them. I wish all former employees the best and hope all works out somehow for you,as for me,I've signed up for schooling through the Trade Act.

By walkman56 7/19/2013 11:10:32 AM
It's too bad that Hostess Brands didn't have competent management back 10 years,or thieves that gave themselves undeserved raises. This is the way it should have been,bakeries running 24/7 and management eager to oblige the customer which was NOT the case from IBC and Hostess Brands. Blame all the unions all you want,but people like myself that worked there saw the company run like a kindergarten which eventually cost over 30,000 jobs.

By steve 7/18/2013 4:12:00 PM
no talk of the 18500 people that are of work. hostess wanted this all along.they did nothing to improve just kept wasting money.