Iconic US confectionary maker, the Hershey Company, is putting its considerable marketing weight behind a new range of snack foods.

The Pennsylvania-headquartered giant, best known for its candies and chocolate brands, is to launch granola bars and expand its cookie ranges.

The new brands will be backed by a multi-million dollar marketing push from Havas-owned Arnold Worldwide in Boston and the independent North Castle Partners in Connecticut.

Hershey's new focus was flagged last year by ceo Richard Lenny's restructure of the company and his pledge to "capture a larger share of the US snack market".

Lenny began Hershey's foray in 2004 with the launch of SmartZone energy bars and last year's cookies and rice-based snack bars. His vision has led the company to its fifth year of double-digit increases and record sales in 2005.

Lehman Brothers analyst Andrew Lazar says Hershey is well placed to snatch 9%-12% of the overall $65 billion (€54.55bn; £37.42bn) snack market and move its share of the single-serve snack market from 19% to 25%.

He comments: "Given Hershey's structural advantages, in terms of its scale, relative market share and industry-leading go-to-market capability, more share gains are likely, which augurs well for the company."

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff