In November, Hershey announced it was releasing the Hershey’s Gold, a brand-new candy bar. Last Friday, the candy bar was launched for purchase.

Who cares, you might be muttering. There are issues of greater import, you might say, pointing to our divided country, tax reform, health care, etc., etc., etc.

That’s all true but chew on this for a moment. The Hershey’s Gold is only the fourth flavor ever rolled out by the brand, and the first “golden creme” – not to be confused with chocolate – introduced in the U.S. It’s also the first flavor to be introduced since the mid-90s.

Unpersuaded? Just consider: Hershey has 80 brands under its belt, a market value of $23.2B, and a slot on the Fortune 500 list it’s had for 23 years (it’s currently #369). To its investors, shareholders, and anyone who enjoys chocolate and confections, the launch of a new candy bar is actually a pretty big deal.

At Zignal Labs, we ran a comprehensive analysis of media and social conversations around the announcement and release of Hershey’s Gold. Here’s what we saw.

The announcement was the star – not the release itself. There were double the tweets around the announcement the confection was coming – versus Friday, when the candy bar was officially launched and available. That said, a relatively small number of news articles on the rollout – under 50 – drove several million impressions. Social impressions were nearly double this count. For marketers and PR professionals, this reinforces the need for both a paid campaign and getting key messages out via earned media. Whether social or traditional media, however, it’s essential to be selective in your focus and laser in on the influencers that have the best fit and reach.

Savvy sponsorships can drive social momentum. Hershey is sponsoring the 2018 Olympics in South Korea – and that sponsorship is responsible for much of the social juice we’ve seen. Gymnast Simone Biles, a five-time Olympic medalist, is one of the individual athletes that’s been teed up to help promote the flavor – and her tweet the day of the release was the most retweeted on the subject.

Overall, the US Olympic Team remains the most influential account associated with the bar. The most popular hashtag – #tastethegold – is the one that cleverly and logically touches on both the ultimate Olympic dream and the name of the bar itself.

The lesson: sponsorships matter. If Hershey had picked a partner that was off brand, it wouldn’t have been effective – and, in fact, might have been entirely counterproductive.

But your brands can unexpectedly cannibalize your efforts. When we took a look at the word cloud, a fast and visual way to see what terms are surfacing most frequently, “Reese’s” and “recipes” came up prominently. Why? On the same day as the rollout of Hershey’s Gold, Reese’s (which is also owned by Hershey) had a very popular trending story on recipes that use the candy. A foodie site, “Dad, What’s For Dinner?”, had the most popular tweet featuring a recipe that incorporated Hershey’s kisses, and that included an affiliate link back to Hershey’s. The holiday season, coupled with these candies’ familiarity, was likely the reason for such a result.

For companies comprised of multiple prominent brands, it’s smart to look at the full spectrum of activities scheduled on social and planned for media outreach, particularly for the day of a launch. Would pausing on the Reese’s activity and checking in with bloggers who participate in an affiliate program have produced a better social response for Hershey’s Gold? Tough to say, but as a general rule of thumb it’s best not to step on your own message.

Certainly, we saw that recipes using various Hershey’s candies were exceptionally shareable content, perhaps because of this time of year. As a result, they may have masked or blunted the impact of Hershey’s Gold (although such content does provide an overall brand lift). There may be an opportunity next time to partner with prominent foodie influencers to share recipes – highly visual, shareable and fun content.

Have you tried the Hershey’s Gold? Did any of the associated coverage pique your interest?