Campaign: Wild Card puts Cheshire cheese in the limelight - Consumer PR

Campaign: Say Cheese!

Clients: Milk Development Council, Belton Cheese, Joseph Heler and The

Cheese: Company

PR team: Wild Card

Timescale: Ongoing from January 2004

Budget: £150,000

The increased availability of imported and UK regional cheeses has seen sales of Cheshire cheese decline over the past 40 years. To reverse this trend and clarify for customers how best to serve the UK's largest-selling crumbly cheese, the Milk Development Council and three leading Cheshire cheese makers - Belton Cheese, Joseph Heler and The Cheese Company - hired specialist food and drink PR agency Wild Card.

Objectives

To fight off competition from other crumbly cheese varieties, such as those from the regions of Lancashire and Wendsleydale. To drive the volume and value of Cheshire cheese sales by encouraging usage.

To particularly target young people living outside the North-West, while maintaining Cheshire cheese's existing, but typically older, local customer base.

Strategy and Plan

The main thrust of the campaign was to put a contemporary face to a traditional product and inspire consumers to experiment by providing serving suggestions. This was achieved by developing a Cheshire cat generic identity for the cheese, while home economist Lorna Rhodes developed recipe ideas.

The campaign launched to consumer press with a Cheshire Cheese Salad Bowl creative, which included all the ingredients to make a strawberry, rocket and Cheshire cheese salad.

Meanwhile, trade press received branded recipe cards featuring stylish photography, while local radio stations were urged by the team to interview Rhodes on-air.

This initial activity was backed up by consumer sampling at events such as the Nantwich Cheese Show - which included a joint promotion with fine-food specialist Merchant Gourmet Sunblush. The team pursued seasonal sampling and dialogue with feature and recipe writers and home economists.

Wild Card then devised tailored recipe ideas for magazine titles, including Hello!, and created competitions offering the chance to win designer cookware in collaboration with local newspapers.

Measurement and Evaluation

To date, Wild Card estimates an audience reach of more than 25 million people, which was achieved through 58 pieces of editorial coverage and 39 broadcast items.

Coverage has been mostly recipe-driven and includes titles such as Sainsbury's Magazine, Mail on Sunday supplement Night & Day, and The Daily Telegraph. In addition, Hello! has printed three seasonal double-page recipe features, while in January, Observer Food Monthly ran a Cheshire cheese taste test.

The campaign also attracted regional and trade interest from titles such as The Grocer and Norwich Evening News.

Results

According to TNS, sales of Cheshire cheese increased in value by 3.7 per cent in 2004, with a 1.4 per cent increase in sales by volume.

William Hartston, feature writer for the Daily Express, which compiled a list of 'ten things you didn't know about Cheshire cheese' last July, says: 'The idea was suggested by the PR company and without it (the feature) wouldn't have happened'.

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