Pleased with the success of a marketing campaign with seven aquariums in 2017, Swedish Fish is taking a deeper dive into sponsorship.

The candy brand this year will expand the program from seven to 14 aquariums, amplify the initiative via sponsorship of Shark Week (kicking off July 22) on the Discovery Channel, and add a national truck tour and retail tie-in.

The Mondelez Int’l brand partnered with the aquariums after being approached by Mark Giovino, CEO and founding partner of the Allionce Group, a marketing agency that represents the U.S. zoos and aquariums.

The timing was right: Mondelez was increasing its investment in Swedish Fish, including the brand’s first big marketing push in more than a decade.

“Most people from the Northeast know Swedish Fish, but people from other places don’t know it quite as well,” said Kalshelia Lloyd, Mondelez Int’l associate director of North American gum equity, speaking at IEG 2018.

The program had four primary objectives: Drive sales, create attractive messaging, deepen an emotional connection and increase visibility.

The brand’s primary marketing challenge: lack of engagement.

“Swedish Fish has a decent level of awareness, but we haven’t had a lot of engagement. We need people to feel a connection to Swedish Fish that is different from all the other brands in the space, and then do something about it. Try the brand, buy the brand or share it with others.”

Mondelez activated the partnerships across multiple on-site touchpoints, many of which were designed to drive social engagement. That included selfie stations (the cornerstone of the program), branded Snapchat filters and branded content.

The program afforded sales rights at six of the seven aquariums, said Giovino, noting that the seventh aquarium will add Swedish Fish to its candy offering this year.

Each aquarium put its own spin on the program. Mystic Aquarium promoted Swedish Fish in a Facebook video that drew more than 15,000 views, while the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium provided title sponsorship to its “Dive In” movie night and a promotion that dangled a 50 percent discount on tickets (nearly 2,000 people redeemed the special code).

“The unique thing about this market is that it’s national in scale, but every property can activate in a way that is special to them,” said Giovino.

The aquariums also created their own content, with a video from the Mystic Aquarium drawing more than 15,000 views.

Giovino attributes the ability of each aquarium to promote the content in their own way as playing a key role in the program’s success.

“We would never ask an aquarium for two Facebook posts per week. If we create the right content, the aquariums will promote it as they see fit. They’ll put the weight of their media assets behind something if its relevant to them. The brand will always win in that scenario.”

The aquariums also can use the branded content to target new audiences. Allionce shared data from an online promotion with each property, including answers to the question “How many times have you been to aquarium XYZ in the past 12 months?”

Twenty-five percent of respondents said they had never been to one of the aquariums.

“That’s a great re-marketing tool the aquarium can plug into their CRM. We don’t always want to come to our aquarium partners with an economic consideration, but other ways we can enhance the overall fan experience.”

Other Mondelez brands include Halls, Oreo, Ritz and Trident.