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Posts Tagged ‘food promotion’

Fresh watermelon slices. Photo by Kudla Jana, taken from stock.xchng.

Juicy watermelon: Not just a summer staple.

Okay, so I’m just going to come out and say it. I absolutely love when an ordinary fruit or vegetable gets a PR makeover and emerges a more accessible, versatile ingredient before your very eyes. It’s like a 90’s chick-flick set in your grocer’s produce section.

I was enthralled when the U.S. Potato Board transformed the boring old spud into a healthy, inexpensive meal option worthy of a Prom Queen title and overjoyed when Hunt’s used its Fairy Godmother magic on canned tomatoes (see past posts). My latest find is an organization attempting to make that star quarterback notice an old summer favorite, even during football season.

The scene

It’s February. You’re outside shoveling the snow in your driveway. When you finish, you go inside your warm home, take off your coat and boots and cozy up to your fireplace with a good book and a nice… slice of fresh watermelon?

Maybe not quite, but the National Watermelon Promotion Board is devoted to positioning the watermelon as a year-round fruit.

"Cookie Cutouts" NWPB's kids recipe idea. Picture from NWPB 2009 media kit.

The NWPB even uses watermelon to help celebrate Valentine's Day.

The action

In efforts to stimulate the watermelon industry, the NWPB provides the public with craft and recipe ideas, as well as watermelon nutritional facts and other benefits on its Web site. Last May, The NWPB launched What About Watermelon?, a blog devoted to sharing the watermelon’s many year-round uses with readers. To learn more about the blog’s purposes, read it’s first post written by Mark Arney, the NWPB’s Executive Director.

One of my favorite features of the blog is the weekly recipes reflecting the current season. In the fall and winter months, the recipes themselves help encourage the consumption of watermelon in cold weather. Some revolve around seasonal events and holidays, and some feature the fruit in warm and savory main-course applications that consumers may not usually consider.

The fact that the recipe titles are sometimes bizarre-sounding (recently posted was a recipe for a Super Bowl-inspired, football-shaped watermelon “cake” complete with cream cheese frosting and licorice decorations) is just further proof of how creative, innovative and hard-working the NWPB is getting in their efforts to promote the watermelon.

The suspenseful cliffhanger

Between the watermelon recipes, facts and stories featured every week on the What About Watermelon? blog, plus separate but similar features on the NWPB’s site, there is certainly no shortage of watermelon information available on the Internet. The tactics are backed by good intentions and creative ideas. However, I gather a feeling that the promotional materials are not being seen by a very large audience.

What About Watermelon? is still a fairly new blog and I see it doing very well if it continues to deliver interesting posts and inventive uses for the watermelon. The NWPB has an online newsroom where marketing materials are readily available for inquiring journalists. However, it has not updated its collection of press releases and news clips since 2007. In order to achieve positive results, it needs to continue its promotional efforts.

So, with a little bit more persistence from the NWPB, I do believe that America’s favorite green and pink summer treat can score a year-round seat at the popular kids’ lunch table.

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In celebration of what is probably the biggest “food holiday” around, I present to you a tasting menu (if you will) of PR initiatives for some of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Grab a plate and enjoy!

Thanksgiving turkey from tyinquarter's article on ehow.com

Butterball is venturing into social media to help you cook your turkey perfectly.

Turkey

Though Butterball continues to be America’s go-to turkey-cooking expert through its famous “Turkey Talk-line,” the poultry company is expanding its expertise to money-saving Thanksgiving tips. This year, Butterball has paired its turkey hotline promotion with suggestions for hosting a Thanksgiving dinner on a budget. Its PR team dispersed a press release announcing its turkey coupons, recipes for using up leftovers so they don’t go to waste, potluck Thanksgiving idea and other dollar-stretching tricks.

The release also unveiled the latest expansion of Butterball’s turkey assistance to Facebook and Twitter. Both pages are monitored and updated by Butterball’s PR staff and encourage cooks to share information and connect with each other. Butterball is also using these social media sites to give individual advice to inquiring fans and followers. I think Butterball’s PR team is being smart by reaching out to its audience through social media and by providing them with the money-saving advice many consumers are seeking in this economy.

Stove Top Stuffing; photo from Kraft Canada

Spread the warmth this year with Stove Top.

Stuffing

To help encourage kindness and holiday cheer during tough times, Stove Top Stuffing has launched its Spread the Warmth campaign. “Stove Top Ambassadors” in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Cleveland are blogging about their experiences as they go around their cities serving food at shelters, handing out bus tokens on the streets, giving free hot chocolate to people who work outdoors and performing other good deeds on behalf of the Kraft product.

Stove Top is also sponsoring a Spread the Warmth contest asking consumers to write a 200-word essay explaining how they spread the warmth to those less fortunate than themselves. Stove Top will award the top three entrants $2,500 for personal use and $5,000 to their charity of choice. November 27 is the last day to enter.

This campaign aims to make Stove Top’s image synonymous with the word “warmth” in as many ways as possible. By encouraging good deeds and having their ambassadors dress in Stove Top logo hats and jackets (while passing out coupons and products as part of their kind acts), Stove Top is showing consumers that it is a brand that cares.

Cranberry topiary, photo from Ocean Spray

After you make your cranberry sauce, Ocean Spray has some cranberry craft ideas for you.

Cranberries

According to Ocean Spray’s Web site, cranberries are the “unofficial, official fruit of the holidays.” In alignment with this thought, Ocean Spray created Plan-It Thanksgiving, a subsite devoted to holiday entertaining. The site features helpful and creative tips for throwing holiday meals such as:

In addition to further promoting the use and consumption of cranberries (they seem to be mentioned on every page), Ocean Spray is positioning itself as an expert on hosting Thanksgiving. This could draw more consumers to think of Ocean Spray when they think of the holiday season.

Pumpkin pie from stock.xchng, taken by Mike Johnson

With the possible Libby's shortage, will you get your pumpkin pie this year?

Pumpkin pie

Did you hear there could be a shortage of Libby’s canned pumpkin this year? I did, almost every day this past week. Last Tuesday, many newspapers, blogs and TV news stations began reporting that Libby’s, America’s leader in canned pumpkin, is predicting a possible product shortage this year. Due to heavy rain this harvest season, pumpkin crops went bad before they were able to be picked. This caused Libby’s to run out of pumpkin to can until next year’s crop comes in.

Because Libby’s is used to make a lot of pumpkin pies this time of year (the brand even has its own “famous” recipe), news of this possible shortage traveled quickly. I commend the Libby’s (or Nestlé, Libby’s parent company) PR team for dispersing its bad news immediately to so many sources. I saw warnings that I may go without pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving on Yahoo! news, Twitter, Slashfood, the New York Times and several other news sites and food blogs. Libby’s did a great job of letting consumers know what happened before it was too late to purchase their canned pumpkin for this holiday season.

Have a happy and delicious Thanksgiving!

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