“The Kissmobile” – Literally, “La Dolce Vita”
When my friend’s oldest son graduated from college, he and 3 other college buddies ventured to Chicago, seeking Fortune & Fame. Reality dictated that they rent an apartment above a grocery store, in a neighborhood, in “transition”.
It was a very large, old apartment. It had plenty of living space, including a large room perfect for parties. Its age demanded duct tape around the windows to abate winter’s windy blasts, and space heaters to mitigate the cold that overwhelmed the radiators.
But young men can tolerate almost anything, except the rejection of a beautiful woman, or a job interview. Current basic living expenses required gainful employment. The 3 other roommates found acceptable jobs. My friend’s son had to settle for driving the Hershey “Kissmobile”.
The Hershey Chocolate Company had 2 “Kissmobiles”. One for the major cities East of the Mississippi. The other, for the West. The “Kissmobile” was a long, flat-bed truck, with 3 large Hershey “Kisses” mounted on the flat-bed. The 1st Kiss was a standard 2-person, driver’s compartment. The 2nd Kiss contained a variety of computer games to entertain children. He 3rd Kiss was a big refrigerator storing lots of Hershey Kisses and other Hershey chocolate candy, which would be generously given away.
The purpose of the Kissmobile was to raise donations for the Children’s Miracle Network. It did that by parking the Kissmobile in front of a City’s Children Hospital, after contacting all of the city’s major media about the time, place, and purpose of the Kissmobile. Large crowds of curious onlookers came. The kids played computer games. Everyone enjoyed the free chocolate candy, including the media. The crowd & donations grew in size every day, during the 5 day stay.
Both employees were dressed in “Hershey Kiss” costumes, handed out candy, monitored the computer games, and gave interviews to the Press. The Kissmobile was quite successful in raising donations, and as an effective Public relations ploy for Hershey.
My friend’s son began the Western journey with an engaged female employee whose fiancée dumped her during the 1st week on their journey. Distraught, she quit immediately. My friend’s son suggested that his girl friend replace her. After quick, but intense interviews, Hershey agreed. Time was of the essence.
So, my friend’s son and his girlfriend were paid to tour the West together. Even Better. My friend’s son convinced the local Marriott Courtyard Inn Manager to provide free lodging & meals. In return, the Kissmobile would be parked in front of the hotel’s main entrance, with the Marriott sign clearly visible behind the Kissmobile. Additional donations were raised, as both employees in costumed “Hershey Kisses” handed out free candy to the large crowds, as the media recorded the Kissmobile’s noble purpose.
Hershey appreciated the ingenuity to generate additional exposure & donations. Hershey was unaware of the free lodging & meals, so it kept paying the employee’s contractual “Per-Diem” meals & lodging pay. The son & his girlfriend saved their “Per Diem” money for their weekends off. They stayed at the best 5-Star Resorts throughout the West, enjoying the sweet life (La Dolce Vita), provided by the “Kissmobile”. The “Kissmobile was responsible for nurturing their relationship from courtship, through engagement, and to marriage.
When my friend’s son returned from Hershey’s Western Public Relations tour, he was solicited by an International Public Relations firm, which led to a lucrative Vice Presidency. That job allowed him to get married. On their Wedding Day, the girl’s father arranged for the Kissmobile to park in front of the Church. The photos from the local media, of the newlyweds leaving the Church, got national exposure.
Dating works in mysterious ways. One girl’s broken engagement leads to another girl’s marriage. My friend’s son & wife celebrated their 15th Wedding Anniversary with a dinner. Family & friends sat at tables, with a picture of the newlyweds standing next to the Kissmobile, in front of the Church. Its been “La Dolce Vita.” ever since.