HOLLYWOOD, FL: Twinkies, the iconic snack brand, successfully demonstrated the power of online and offline word-of-mouth as the product returned to store shelves across America.

Rich Seban, president/coo of Hostess Brands LLC, discussed the "resurrection" of Twinkies at the 2014 ANA Brand Masters Conference, an event organised by the Association of National Advertisers.

The "death" of the brand came as Hostess Brands Inc. – often now known as "Old HB, Inc." – filed for bankruptcy protection in early 2012. (For a full account of "The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever" campaign, read Warc's exclusive report: The Twinkies story: How an American icon rose from the depths of bankruptcy.)

Production of Twinkies – and other offerings like CupCakes and Wonder Bread – came to a halt that year, and the process of selling off the firm's portfolio heated up.

As the new owner of Twinkies, Hostess Brands LLC aimed to tap into the brand's comeback story, and to position it in a way that would generate excitement with a younger audience – especially millennials.

"There was no doubt that it was a powerfully nostalgic brand among older moms, but we didn't want to go back to the way things were," said Matt Bowne, creative director at Twinkies' agency Bernstein-Rein, who was speaking alongside Seban.

Funds were tight, so creating viral buzz would be particularly beneficial. That process began by featuring huge wallscapes on prominent buildings in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Having started to build offline and online buzz with this approach, a guerrilla marketing campaign got underway in several cities, backed by efforts on social media and attempts to reach influencers in the worlds of TV and entertainment.

As a result of these efforts, Twinkies posted record-breaking sales figures – and helped the category return to growth into the bargain.

Data sourced from Warc