New potato effort touts its nutritional benefits

DENVER: After several years of negative potato publicity thanks to low-carb diet enthusiasts, the US Potato Board (USPB) is using PR in a new campaign to both explain how the tuber best fits into a health-conscious lifestyle and reach out to mothers, a key demographic.

DENVER: After several years of negative potato publicity thanks to low-carb diet enthusiasts, the US Potato Board (USPB) is using PR in a new campaign to both explain how the tuber best fits into a health-conscious lifestyle and reach out to mothers, a key demographic.

The USPB, the country's potato marketing organization, recently launched “Peel Back the Truth,” a PR and advertising campaign expected to be in place for several years. This new effort aims to promote the health advantages of eating potatoes and will tackle nutritional myths about the vegetable.

AOR Fleishman-Hillard is assisting the push, and Colorado-based Sterling-Rice Group created the ads.

To better connect with women, who buy the most groceries for American families, the USPB said that it planned to launch a Web site by the end of last week. The site, Momsdinnerhelper.com, gives mothers the chance to share recipes and respond to female bloggers from the USPB.

“We want to get moms talking,” explained Linda McCashion, VP of PR at the USPB. “It's important that moms understand the nutritional content of potatoes. In the past, we have emphasized more taste or lifestyle, but [the dissemination] of actual nutritional information is key.”

The decision to develop a Web site arose from research indicating that more moms were online than other women, according to Kris Caputo, VP at Fleishman. Key outreach will focus on reaching mothers through “mommy blogs and food networking sites to promote the site,” she continued.

Although the USPB has long promoted the health benefits of potatoes, this is a more concentrated effort, McCashion noted, adding that the social networking component is new.

The USPB sent out press kits with information on the larger campaign to approximately 500 food editors at daily newspapers. It also negotiated earned space in long-lead women's publications where the organization had already purchased ad space.

Additional messaging will focus on other key issues to US mothers, such as the cost-effectiveness of potatoes. It will also leverage the credibility of the United Nations, which celebrated the potato's cost, nutrition, and global stature and declared 2008 the “International Year of the Potato.”

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