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Posts Tagged ‘product promotion’

B.L.T. sandwich from stock.xchng, taken by John Evans

Hellmann's or Miracle Whip: Which do you prefer on your B.L.T.?

Condiments were flying during the mayo and mayo-alternative food fight that ensued this week. Hellmann’s launched a holiday campaign emphasizing the product’s “real” ingredients. Meanwhile, Miracle Whip, the Kraft brand sandwich spread that prides itself on having more “zip” than mayo, was in a full-on war with Stephen Colbert over its “don’t be so mayo” commercials.

Hellmann’s campaign

I first heard about the Hellmann’s Real Holiday Helpings campaign when Bobby Flay tweeted from its launch event Friday (yes, although I feel nerdy admitting it, I do follow Bobby Flay on Twitter). The campaign involves videos of Flay creating dishes using mayo, holiday recipes, behind-the-scenes videos exclusive to Hellman’s fans on Facebook and a chance for consumers to win a year’s supply of groceries.

The idea of “real food” is a key message of the Real Holiday Helpings campaign. Flay’s videos feature him demonstrating how to make the five recipes he created using Hellmann’s products. He uses the phrase “it’s all real food” at least once in each video and explains that Hellmann’s is made of eggs, oil and vinegar. Each video ends with the Hellmann’s logo above the tagline “It’s Time for Real.”

Miracle Whip vs. Colbert

On October 15’s “Colbert Report,” Stephen Colbert drew attention to Miracle Whip’s most recent commercials featuring the term “don’t be so mayo.” Colbert took great offense to the advertisements and proclaimed that he is pro-mayo, then showed his own spoof commercial for mayonnaise. Miracle Whip retaliated by taking out a full-page ad in various newspapers serving as an open letter to Colbert. The memo was written in a humorous tone and announced that Miracle Whip had purchased ads during every commercial break of Thursday’s “Colbert Report.”

Think about it, Mr. Colbert. In a sense, we will own you. We’re on a mission. We’re taking no prisoners. We’re raising Hell, man.

Miracle Whip proceeded to air several versions its commercials addressed to Colbert. One invited him to “come over to the other side where all is sweet and tangy.” Another explained the talk show host’s “vicious attack” on Miracle Whip to viewers:

During Thursday’s episode, Colbert addressed the situation:

Well Miracle Whip, I know when I’ve been bested. Thank you for buying ad time on my show because let’s face it. Revenue is down throughout the television industry and I could certainly use the money to buy more delicious mayonnaise.

Needless to say, fans of both products and of Colbert took stances on the issue and voiced their opinions online. Miracle Whip’s Facebook page wall is covered in comments (both negative and positive) about the Colbert feud. Chrissy Dunham wrote:

The marketing was pure genius all around! I never even paid attention to the add or took much stock into Colbert’s comments until Miracle Whip struck back! (By the way, the original adds were no where near as stupid some others I’ve seen recently.) And for those of you who think Colbert is somehow upset by such stupid …banter…Have you ever WATCHED his show? This is exactly the thing he thrives on! A tad idiotic, yet ultimately clever comebacks. It wouldn’t surprise me if they planned this stunt together – Either way, I thank you both Colbert and Miracle Whip for my fair share of entertainment this evening!

Battle for publicity

Though Hellmann’s holiday campaign launch is unattached to the Colbert/Miracle Whip feud, I believe it is somewhat related to Hellmann’s desire to compete with Miracle Whip in the mayo market. By getting a highly respected celebrity chef like Bobby Flay to endorse its products and by continuously pointing out that it uses all real ingredients (a jab at Miracle Whip?), Hellmann’s seems to be reminding consumers that it makes a superior product.

As for Miracle Whip, Thursday’s move was a creative and entertaining marketing stunt that fit its brand image well. Though it elicited many negative comments from consumers, it mostly drew attention to its product in a big way. Miracle Whip’s marketing team showed America how the spread differs from “boring” mayonnaise (implying Hellmann’s) and made it easy for fans of both products to take sides.

Perhaps Hellmann’s wasted their time hiring Bobby Flay… Stephen Colbert was willing to act as spokesman the entire time.

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Delicious-looking tomatoes, photo from stock.xchng taken by Jarsem

Hunt's wants to be considered when your tomatoes stop looking this fresh.

While watching Alton Brown make amazing-looking beer cheese bread on “Good Eats” last week, I saw a commercial for Hunt’s tomatoes featuring other Food Network personality George Duran. It caught my eye because not only was it promoting Hunt’s products in a somewhat amusing way, it was also promoting an integrated marketing campaign.

The idea

Similar to the campaign featured in my potato post, Hunt’s is also trying to show consumers the more versatile side of a vegetable (fruit?). Just in time for fall and winter weather, Hunt’s is positioning its “FlashSteamed” canned tomatoes as the perfect substitute for garden-fresh ones. To emphasize this, Hunt’s has hired a celebrity spokesperson, created recipes using the product and sponsored a contest. All align with its Crash Kitchen Tour campaign.

The spokesperson

Chef George Duran, who has hosted several shows on the Food Network and written a cookbook, is now using his sense of humor, expertise and quirky take on food to promote Hunt’s tomatoes. In addition to starring in the commercial, Duran also created recipes using Hunt’s products that are featured on both the brand’s Web site and in a YouTube video hosted by the chef. Duran was also a key component to the contest discussed below and he regularly uses his Twitter account to tweet about his work for Hunt’s. Basically, there would be no campaign without Duran.

The contest

October 6 was the deadline to enter to become one of 1,000 Hunt’s-sponsored party hosts. Hunt’s asked winners to host a “Backyard Garden Fresh Party” in their own homes on October 24 and share their experiences on a site called House Party. Two party hosts won the grand prize of having George Duran “crash” their parties. He helped them cook one of his recipes featuring Hunt’s tomato products.

Hunt’s sent “party packs” with coupons, a Hunt’s logo apron, recipes and party ideas to all 1,000 hosts. House Party allowed hosts from all over the country to post pictures, comments and videos from their parties to one page. The idea was for consumers to throw a garden-inspired party in any type of weather. This ties back to the brand’s key message that canned tomatoes can be enjoyed any time of the year.

The effort

I think this campaign had some brilliant ideas. George Duran’s YouTube video and commercial draws attention to Hunt’s products. The contest got food-lovers thinking about Hunt’s and its key messages. The use of House Party was very creative and the page now serves as documentation of many happy Hunt’s consumers and their parties. The campaign even utilized other social media tools with Duran’s tweets and a Facebook page.

However, I’m not sure these ideas were promoted in the most effective ways. For instance, I was able to find exactly one press release on the campaign, and it was not on the Hunt’s site nor on the site of its parent company, ConAgra Foods. I may not have all the information, but it appears to me that promotion for this campaign was done at the last minute. Even the brand’s Facebook page seems like it was only created a month ago with the sole purpose of providing materials from the campaign.

Although I think the brand’s PR team could have done a better job promoting the campaign, I still think it is a pretty successful one. It does a great job of incorporating many different media elements while inspiring consumers to think creatively about their food.

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A refreshing glass of coffee from stock.xchng, taken by Sergio López

Starbucks wants you to know you can now enjoy your favorite coffee in an instant.

When it comes to promotion, there’s no denying that Starbucks has got it together. Though it doesn’t need to remind consumers of its existence (caffeine cravings take care of this on their own), Starbucks continues to dominate the coffee shop industry by coming up with new ways to impress the public. From educating customers about its global responsibility program, to constantly monitoring its online image on Twitter, Starbucks is paying attention to how it is seen in the public eye.

From the PR perspective, I think the way Starbucks uses Twitter is one of the best examples of how businesses can benefit from social media. I love how Starbucks responds to people’s tweets (both positive and negative) regarding the company. Starbucks has its own “Twitter Master” Brad Nelson, who updates followers on company news, answers customer questions and even apologizes when people complain about slow service!

But the latest PR move Starbucks has made that impressed me is its promotion of Starbucks VIA instant coffee, which hit stores last week.

Road Trip

On September 29, the aforementioned Brad arrived in New York, the last stop on a two-week road trip with stand-up comedian Erin Foley. The pair traveled from Seattle (Starbucks headquarters) to New York in a SUV promoting the new instant coffee, stopping in each state to hand out samples. Starbucks filmed the road trip and invited customers to follow Brad and Erin’s journey in eight documentary-style webisodes posted on YouTube.

Taste Test

Today is the last day of the Starbucks VIA Taste Challenge, which took place in Starbucks stores across the country over the weekend. Baristas challenged participants to taste (for free!) both the new VIA instant coffee and the classic Pike Place Roast brewed coffee, then  try to guess which one was instant. Participants also received coupons for both products.

Interactive Contest

Until November 10, coffee lovers can submit a video, picture or essay to Starbucks that shows or explains how they used Starbucks VIA in the five different ways or places listed on the product site. They include:

Winners are chosen each week for six weeks (today is the last day to submit for the first week) and can win prizes like an iPod touch.

Starbucks VIA comes in packages of three and 12.

Comes in packages of three and 12. Available in Italian Roast and Colombia.

Smart Strategy

I am impressed with the lengths (literally a length of 4,000 miles for Brad and Erin) Starbucks has gone to promote this new product. It has reached out to consumers online through the webisodes and product-mentioning tweets, it has directly approached customers with the taste challenge and it has asked VIA fans to talk about how they use the product with the online contest. 

All of these methods are innovative ways of promoting a new product. With the announcement of each element, Starbucks’s PR team wrote a fact sheet or news release, further increasing the chance of gaining media coverage on its new product. I think that if the company continues to promote itself creatively, it will be around to keep people happily caffeinated for a very long time.

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