CAMPAIGNS: Product PR - Local celeb helps Friendship's sales

Client: Friendship Dairies (Long Island, NY)

Client: Friendship Dairies (Long Island, NY)

Client: Friendship Dairies (Long Island, NY)

PR Team: Cronin and Co. (Glastonbury, CT)

Campaign: Building Healthy Friendships

Time Frame: May 2000- Ongoing

Budget: Less than dollars 150,000



Family-owned Friendship Dairies, based in Friendship, NY, dominates the New York metropolitan market but has little presence elsewhere.

When the company decided it wanted in on the Connecticut cottage cheese market, it enlisted the help of Cronin & Co., and a WNBA star and her mom.



Strategy

Friendship saw an opening in southern Connecticut where its Big Apple distribution bled over the border. It hoped to increase its statewide market share from 2.5% to 5% within a year.

'We would like to extend to New England and we feel Connecticut could be that bridge,' says marketing manager Marc Silverstein.

With a budget of only dollars 150,000, advertising was out of the question.

But to go up against the companies that dominate the Connecticut market, Friendship had to differentiate its product from that of its competitors.

Fortunately, Friendship's cottage cheese is different - it contains no additives or preservatives. So the dairy decided to cast itself as an all-natural, healthy alternative to better-established brands like Breakstone's and Hood.

Cronin drew up a plan for an educational campaign geared toward the mainstay of the cottage cheese market - women 25 and over. The theme was women's fitness. Adding star power, the team signed Houston Comets point guard Jennifer Rizzotti, a Connecticut native, who achieved local hero status when she led the University of Connecticut to its first national college basketball championship.

Annmarie Kemp, Cronin & Co. director of PR, says, '(Rizzotti) embodies that all-natural, all-American feel. She's the girl next door.'

Rizzotti's contribution to the campaign was to urge women to partner with friends and exercise. To drive home this buddy-system approach, and to reach older women, Rizzotti recruited her mother.



Tactics

Cronin started sending out 10-page press kits starting in May, and Rizzotti began a statewide tour in August.

Titled 'Building Healthy Friendships,' the campaign features Rizzotti and her mother crisscrossing the state, leading impromptu aerobics classes at malls and supermarkets, and speaking on women's fitness. Partnerships with several of the state's larger radio stations led to valuable publicity.

The stations held live call-ins and contests in conjunction with Rizzotti appearances. Friendship has also forged partnerships with the YMCA, the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the University of Connecticut Health Center.



Results

The campaign generated newspaper coverage throughout the state, including captioned photographs in the Norwich Bulletin, the Connecticut Post and on the front page of the New Haven Register. Articles also ran in smaller papers such as the Trumbull Times and the Naugatuck Daily News.

TV news coverage included segments on WSHA in Bridgeport, Fox affiliate WTIC in Hartford and ABC affiliate WTNH in New Haven. And New London PAX affiliate WHPX devoted an entire episode of its half-hour public affairs talk show For the Record to the campaign.

In addition to appearing on partner radio stations WKCI, WRCH and WKNL, Rizzotti did live telephone interviews on the morning radio shows of WGCH in Greenwich, WCTY/WICH in Norwich and WQGN in New London. Since the first press kits went out in May, market share has climbed from 2.5% to 4%.



Future

Friendship plans to continue the campaign through 2001 and possibly beyond.

'It can evolve as Friendship evolves its market share,' said Kemp.



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