CAMPAIGNS: Consumer PR - Biscuit giant gets ahead by a nose

Last autumn, Lexis was behind the successful Science of Dunking campaign for McVitie’s, which used scientific research to find an equation for the optimum time to dunk a biscuit in a hot drink. During the preparation for the campaign, which won this year’s PR Week award for best use of research, the team discovered that ten times more flavour was released from a biscuit when it was dunked, and that a ’Nose Space’ machine existed which could measure the release of food flavours.

Last autumn, Lexis was behind the successful Science of Dunking

campaign for McVitie’s, which used scientific research to find an

equation for the optimum time to dunk a biscuit in a hot drink. During

the preparation for the campaign, which won this year’s PR Week award

for best use of research, the team discovered that ten times more

flavour was released from a biscuit when it was dunked, and that a ’Nose

Space’ machine existed which could measure the release of food

flavours.



They put the discovery to one side, as for the basis of this year’s

follow-up campaign, also led by Dr Len Fisher at Bristol University, to

establish scientific research into which drinks bring out the best

flavour in biscuits when they are consumed at the same time.





Objectives



To reinforce the idea that McVitie’s is constantly looking at new ways

to improve its products for the consumer.





Strategy and Plan



The planning for the campaign kicked off immediately after Science of

Dunking had run its course with a search to check there had been no

previous coverage of the Nose Space machine in the consumer press.



Since taste is largely determined by the odour of food, the machine

works by analysing the chemical composition of air breathed in through

the nose by people who are eating. The scientists looked at how the

chemical which gives biscuits their taste was affected by different

drinks.



Dr Fisher carried out research with the Nose Space on more than 200

different biscuit and drink combinations using McVitie’s core brands

over two months, with a brief to come up with the top five combinations.

He found that digestives released more flavour when eaten with chocolate

milk; hot milk releases more flavour from Hobnobs; cold milk was best

with ginger nuts, hot chocolate boosted the taste of caramel digestives;

and orange juice brought out more flavour in Jaffa Cakes.



Lexis decided to build the campaign around the angle that it was the

first time scientists had measured how the flavour of one food affects

another, with the ’top five’ results as colour, to give it more

clout.



One month before the 9 November launch date, the story was offered as an

exclusive to BBC Newsgathering, which filmed the research for various

BBC channels and led to Radio 4 heading the radio coverage. The Sun was

also offered an exclusive to visit the labs. Then science correspondents

and consumer affairs correspondents on the other nationals were

targeted.



As PR Week went to press, Lexis was also aiming to challenge BBC Food

and Drink expert Jilly Goolden to a taste test, and was putting Dr

Fisher up for ’day in the life’-type features.





Measurement and Evaluation



Lexis will be using CMS Precis to carry out a full assessment of the

media coverage after the campaign has run its course, but initial

indications are that it has exceeded client expectations.



Selling the story in to the BBC first led to 38 radio interviews on the

day of the launch. A number of radio stations ran busy phone-ins for

listeners to give their opinion of what drink goes best with

biscuits.





Results



Lexis avoided a cynical response to the commercial backing of the

research, by stressing that it was the first time that research had been

undertaken into the effect of one food on another. While the agency was

never going to gain the same amount of penetration with this story as

the original Science of Dunking campaign, it did create a strong sequel

which reinforced the idea that McVitie’s is more than just a biscuit

manufacturer.



Client: McVitie’s

PR Team: Lexis PR

Campaign: The Science of Flavour

Timescale: Nov 1998 - 9 Nov, 1999

Budget: pounds 40,000



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