Campaign: Emmerdale link helps Heinz sell salad cream - Media Relations

Campaign: Heinz Salad Cream's sponsorship of ITV soap Emmerdale Client: Heinz PR team: Shine Communications Timescale: May-October 2004 Budget: £70,000

Heinz Salad Cream asked Shine Communications to bring to life its second annual sponsorship of ITV soap Emmerdale. Launched in May, this six-month-long sponsorship deal featured Heinz Salad Cream indents themed around Chinese whispers, with the tagline 'It's all going on'.

Objectives

To promote and maximise Heinz's backing of the programme to a predominantly female target audience of soap-lovers and Emmerdale fans. To portray Heinz Salad Cream as the perfect accompaniment to a variety of foods for mums and young independent women. To bump up sales.

Strategy and Plan

To highlight that salad cream is not just a dressing for lettuce, but also goes well with dishes such as jacket potatoes, quiche, sandwiches and bangers 'n' mash, the PR team decided on a media campaign championing the cause of traditional pub food. The initiative, launched at the beginning of June in exclusive partnership with the Daily Star, featured soap star Mark Charnock, who plays Marlon Dingle, head chef at Emmerdale public house The Woolpack.

A press release was sent out to women's press and TV and soap media, while the regional press received details of a competition to find the top ten traditional pubs in the UK. This was backed by Charnock, who took part in half a day of radio interviews.

Shine then launched a promotional 'money-can't-buy' platform in conjunction with programme maker Granada. This offered print journalists the opportunity to give their readers a chance to win days out to the Emmerdale set and mingle with stars of the show at the Heinz Salad Cream Emmerdale BBQ in September.

The PR team also took the initiative when Capital Radio's Johnny Vaughan made an on-air comment about salad cream being the only remedy for dull summer salads. Within the hour, Shine sent him a crate of Heinz.

Measurement and Evaluation

Heinz achieved 79 pieces of coverage, while independent evaluation by Media Proof estimates the campaign reached an audience of more than 27 million people.

To date, the Daily Star has run three items on the story and intends to feature further articles about competition winners who went to the Emmerdale set and the soap's summer barbecue.

The Sun's TV magazine, the Daily Express Saturday magazine, That's Life, Chat, TV Choice, Inside Soap, OK!'s Hot Stars and All About Soap also covered the campaign.

Regional interest included the Yorkshire Post, while Vaughan plugged Heinz Salad Cream six times on air after receiving the consignment and gave away autographed bottles of the sauce as competition prizes.

Results

Since April, sales of the Heinz condiment have risen by seven per cent on the same period last year.

Daily Star feature writer Loma-Ann Bonner, who interviewed Charnock on Emmerdale's outside set, says the Marlon Dingle angle was the main reason the newspaper gave the campaign coverage.

'Because our readers tend to be big Emmerdale fans and like going to pubs, the idea of Mark and traditional food tied in well together,' she adds.

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