Kitchen appliance launch banks on PR to reach foodie influencers

Monique Frew, director of marketing and PR for Eades Appliance Technology (EAT), explains that education was critical to last October's launch of Sous Vide Supreme, a first-to-market consumer appliance that cooks food in a water bath.

Client: Eades Appliance Technology (Seattle, WA)
Agency: Duo Public Relations (Seattle, WA)
Duration: July 2009 - January 2010
Budget: About $100,000

Monique Frew, director of marketing and PR for Eades Appliance Technology (EAT), explains that education was critical to last October's launch of Sous Vide Supreme, a first-to-market consumer appliance that cooks food in a water bath. PR was chosen as the sole marketing driver and the company hired Duo Public Relations to help introduce the product in the US and Canada, establish category leadership, drive sales, and poise the fledgling company for additional international growth this year.

Strategy
The team decided to focus on education about the cooking technique and the appliance for all audiences and in all phases. Foodie influencers were enlisted prior to launch and consumer outreach, and the company's Web site, Sousvidesupreme.com, provided additional resources.

“We had the opportunity to be the category leader and trusted adviser,” Frew explains. “We want to give customers as much information as possible… and keep information growing.”

Tactics
Pre-launch demo tours were conducted in Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York to give food media, potential retailers, and culinary influencers firsthand product experience.

UK-based chef Heston Blumenthal, who Duo founding partner Rebecca Mosley says reached out to EAT during product development, helped at the events.

The team circulated educational media kits in local and national markets, and used a mat release for smaller media markets. Targets included food and general consumer outlets, home and appliance trades, and food and gadget bloggers. Products were also mailed to media for two-week trials.

Sousvidesupreme.com houses a how-to video and other resources, including a blog, recipes and cooking tips.

The team also created Facebook and Twitter pages, though Frew says they weren't heavily used for the launch because they couldn't facilitate product trial. Dr. Michael Eades, cofounder of EAT, communicated news about the launch on his Twitter page and blog.

Results
Frew says 2009 sales projections were exceeded by 200%. EAT credits the campaign for helping attract retail partner Sur La Table.

Through early January, the campaign garnered more than 170 placements, with total audience reach of nearly 11 million. The Web site has logged 80,000 visitors since its launch, and the how-to video has 14,350 views to date.

Mosley notes that about six media members volunteered to contribute to the company blog. In addition, nearly 120 media members total attended the October five-city tour, and 70 others participated in the mail demo program.

Future
EAT will continue working with Duo to help launch Sous Vide Supreme in the UK and five other countries this year. Additional consumer and commercial product launches are planned for the US later this year.

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