In 1981, Universal Studios, together with a young Steven Spielberg, approached Mars Inc. with a product placement concept for an upcoming family-friendly science fiction film – E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. Spielberg was keen to use M&Ms in a key scene of the film featured here:
Unfortunately, Universal Studios refused to show Mars the complete script. As a result, Mars declined the opportunity. Oops!
This didn’t deter Universal for long. The studio knocked on Hershey’s door soon after actually pursuing Hershey Kisses for the scene. Instead, Hershey’s came back and suggested their newest creation as a much better fit – an M&M alike candy they named Reese’s Pieces.
“E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” went on to be a cultural touchstone and sales of Reese’s Pieces (now billed as “E.T.’s favorite candy”) skyrocketed 65% almost immediately upon release of the film.The movie has since been re-released twice. First in 1985 and again in 2000. Each time, Reese’s Pieces sales surge. What a hit!