70. Reese's Pieces, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Jack Dowd, Director, New Products Development at Hershey Chocolate (in an exit interview for the Hershey Community Archives, 1991): "[Hershey's] had received a call from Universal Studios, and they said that Steven Spielberg was producing a movie called E.T., and they were going to be using Reese's Pieces. They had decided to use Reese's Pieces and it would play a featured part in the picture, and they would like us to cooperate by promoting the picture.
"We were concerned about a number of things [...] Steven Spielberg had great successes, but his last movie was "1941," a movie starring John Belushi, which was a total bomb. So we weren't sure whether this picture was going to be a success. The idea of an extraterrestrial creature was unusual and, therefore, risky. We wanted to know the plot, because we didn't want some 'Monster That Ate Chicago' type movie. We didn't want to frighten our consumers; we wanted to entertain them. I was told that this creature was lured into the house by Reese's Pieces. The vice president who talked to me said they had decided not to use M&Ms, so he said to his son, 'What would you use?' And his son said, 'Reese's Pieces.' He said he had never heard of Reese's Pieces, which is generally true. Adults didn't know as much about it as the children did.
"It looked like something that was worthwhile. We needed some promotion for our product. We said we would back it up with about a million dollars' worth of promotion, in consumer promotions, trade promotions, displays, in-store displays, using, featuring "E.T." In return, we would have an exclusive in the confectionery field for promotion and advertising. We could also use "E.T." for advertising, but we had to get their approval, of course, which was obvious standard procedure. There was no contract written at the time. It was written, sent to us later, and approved by our legal department. So we went along and produced the point-of-sale material, got a picture. We were going to offer a teeshirt that had a picture of E.T. We wanted a picture, and they sent us a picture of E.T. and the little boy. I proudly showed the picture at the staff meeting, and Earl [Spangler, Hershey's president] said, 'That is the ugliest creature I have ever seen in my whole life.' There's no answer to that. You just sit quietly and let the eruption die down.
"We arranged to have all the people that had worked on Reese's Pieces [...] come to a special showing at the Motor Lodge Theater [...] At the end, the screen went black and there was total silence. Nobody seemed to want to get off the mountain; they wanted to stay up there. And then there was enormous applause. So I ran out in the lobby to watch the faces of the people that came by. Many of them were tear-stained. And Earl, who is a very emotional man, came out and his eyes were quite moist, and I said, 'Is he still ugly, Earl?' And Earl said, 'Ah, he's beautiful.' And that was one of the high spots of the whole performance."