COMMUNITY RELATIONS - Good to the last building block
COMMUNITY RELATIONS - Good to the last building block
Client: Maxwell House Division, Kraft Foods (Tarrytown, NY)
PR Team: Ketchum (New York)
Campaign: Build A Home America
Time Frame: 1997 to present
Budget: Several million
With Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and other popular chains competing for
java-lovers’ dollars, well-established coffee brands are being forced to
devise new ways of maintaining market share.
The Maxwell House division of Kraft Foods asked Ketchum to help it raise
the profile of the brand and form a closer relationship with
The result was Maxwell House Build A Home America, a volunteer endeavor
launched in conjunction with the Habitat For Humanity charity.
The event involved building 100 homes in 100 weeks for 100 families
during 1997 and 1998.
Ketchum was charged with giving Maxwell House a caring image. The
resulting campaign was partially inspired by the company’s history,
according to vice president and account supervisor Stephanie Foxman.
’Considering its century-long commitment to the American family and
home, we suggested that Maxwell House do a cause-related campaign with a
charity partner,’ Foxman says. ’We also proposed that the program be
carried out on a grass-roots level with a tangible end-product.’
Ketchum audited several potential partners, eventually identifying
Habitat For Humanity as an ideal candidate. The charity aims to
eliminate low-income housing by building homes through 1,500 local
affiliates worldwide, then selling them at no profit via interest-free
Habitat For Humanity welcomed the idea, recognizing that the campaign
would improve its own visibility, galvanize new volunteers and raise
additional funds for construction.
The campaign kicked off in Whiteman MA on July 8, 1997 and ran until the
following summer, covering 37 cities. Consumers were alerted through TV
commercials and on-pack promotions. By calling a toll-free number,
consumers could donate time, resources and talent to constructing
Maxwell House also challenged all local Habitat For Humanity affiliates
to match its own dollars 2 million contribution toward the homes.
As the campaign progressed, the media were invited to events such as
wall-raising ceremonies and an 18-hour ’building blitz.’ Additionally,
Ketchum alerted the mayors of all 37 cities about the initiative several
weeks before it began, sharing background on the number of homes to be
erected in their areas and the number of volunteers expected.
To emphasize the brand’s participation, Maxwell House plants slowed
production so employees could join in the building work while Maxwell
House president Ann Fudge attended many events. A traveling Maxwell
House Cafe, complete with exhibits and literature about Habitat For
Humanity and Maxwell House’s involvement, stopped at each site. It also
visited 74 retail stores and 16 college campuses.
Ketchum’s Foxman admits the campaign posed several challenges. Notably,
in several cities, ’there were enough other things happening to
potentially take away from the builds.’ Ketchum worked with affiliates
to plan unique construction-related events.
For instance, in the middle of a heat wave in San Antonio, Texas, the
firm arranged for construction to take place at night. Local media
picked up on the event, tying it in with broadcasts and newspaper
articles on how local residents were coping with the high
Foxman and her colleagues also arranged to fly two members of each Build
A Home America recipient family to Los Angeles as work began on the
100th home. The TV show Extra and USA Today were among media that ran
stories on the gathering. The Home & Family network aired a segment on
how some of the new homes were being decorated. National magazines,
among them Woman’s Day, Country Living and Essence, were issued advance
copies of the 1998 tour itinerary along with the volunteer information
Favorable publicity about Maxwell House and Build A Home America reached
more than 300 million consumers. The company’s coffee sales rose 2.4% in
markets reached by the program, and matching funds generated for Habitat
For Humanity exceeded dollars 3.2 million. Also, the project attracted
Broadcast accounted for more than 190 million impressions, including two
segments on the NBC’s Today Show, a two-minute segment on CBS This
Morning and an in-depth piece on Extra.
Oprah Winfrey saluted the program in two separate editions of her talk
show and announced plans to sponsor her own ’builds’ in conjunction with
Habitat For Humanity. Ann Fudge accepted an Oprah Angel Network
The endeavor also garnered more than 110 million print impressions,
ranging from coverage in The New York Times to exposure in magazines
like Family Circle.
Additionally, a Millward Brown consumer study commissioned by the client
showed that out of a list of 13 attributes associated with the Maxwell
House brand, it was ranked fourth as a ’caring brand’ and second as a
brand that is ’taking an active community role.’
Foxman says, ’This represented a significant shift in attitudes. As a
comparison, Maxwell House ranked three times higher for caring and four
times higher for community involvement than Folger’s, the closest
On June 29, Ketchum staged a symbolic home-building in New York’s Union
Square neighborhood. Volunteers erected the frame of a house, which
passers-by were invited to sign. Habitat For Humanity received a dollars
100 donation for each signature obtained. Funds raised that day totaled
dollars 100,000. These will be used to build three complete homes in New
Ketchum has said that it will work hard to maintain Maxwell House’s
reputation and build on the goodwill the partnership with Habitat For
Humanity generated. - Julie Ritzer Ross
CRISIS COMMUNICATION - Putting out fires with PR
Client: Oak Tree Farm Dairy (East Northport, Long Island, NY)
PR Team: Epoch 5 Marketing (Huntington, NY)
Campaign: Project Phoenix
Timeframe: First phase, October 1997 to August 1998; last phase December
Budget: dollars 72,000
A late-night call to the home of Katherine Heaviside, president of Epoch
5 Marketing, jump-started PR efforts that would carry a dairy farm back
into production almost a year after it was burned to the ground.
Even before the fire fighters had extinguished the blaze at Oak Tree
Farm Dairy, Epoch 5 was on the scene, beginning to quell the public
After the accident, which was caused by a faulty compressor not only did
Oak Tree’s management have to rebuild its facility, it also had to
reaffirm its commitment to both the community and its employees.
But even before the blaze, the dairy farm was struggling with
long-standing community relations issues. Previous management had been
slow to respond to community concerns about code violations, odors and
Within 12 hours of the fire’s start, Epoch 5 presented a plan of action
to Oak Tree’s management. It emphasized three objectives: obtain early
support from public officials and the media; communicate early and often
with community members and involve them in the process; position the
dairy’s efforts to survive as the heroic struggle of a local,
family-owned business, thus creating sympathy that would encourage local
Epoch 5 was able to act quickly because it had developed an outline of a
crisis management plan for Oak Tree a few years earlier. ’We were called
in after a shooting that took place in a company-owned Dairy Barn retail
store,’ recalls Heaviside. ’At that point, we knew the company needed a
crisis management plan.’
Oak Tree was able to garner early support from town officials, its
employees and customers because of its initial efforts. ’Fortunately,
the company had alternative bottling plans in place,’ notes Heaviside.
’And they committed to keeping all their employees on board throughout
the rebuilding process. That was a very positive story that we were able
to come out with right away.’
Since milk deliveries were delayed the morning of the fire, Heaviside
created a letter that the drivers delivered to every one of Oak Tree’s
customers. The letter let customers know that after the first day, all
deliveries would be made on time.
Also on the first day, Heaviside appealed to the Town Council to arrange
a meeting that would initiate Oak Tree’s rebuilding efforts. ’When more
than 50% of a building burns, you need a Zoning Board of Appeals review
before rebuilding can begin,’ Heaviside explains. ’And, sometimes it can
take six to nine months just to get on the zoning board’s agenda.’
Epoch 5 had previously built a strong relationship with the Town Council
by encouraging Oak Tree to sponsor a recent local festival.
’They were the chief sponsor of a fair that drew 200,000 people about
one month prior to the fire,’ explains Douglas Vandewinckel, vice
president of Epoch 5.
’I credit the public officials’ willingness to be more sympathetic to
Oak Tree to the positive effects of the festival sponsorship,’ he
Positive PR efforts continued on the second day after the fire, when the
president of Oak Tree sent flowers to two dozen of the dairy’s neighbors
that were most affected by the blaze. ’The current management realizes
the importance of maintaining a good relationship with the community,’
While continuing to work with town officials on the rebuilding process,
the Epoch 5 team kept the lines of communication with the public open by
creating a newsletter and fielding negative ’Letters to the Editor’ in
the local newspaper. In addition, Epoch 5 negotiated with Newsday, the
area’s largest newspaper, for a 75% price cut on a full-page ’thank you’
ad to the community. It paid dollars 2,500 for an ad that usually costs
dollars 20,000, Heaviside reports.
The outcome of this crisis speaks for itself. Oak Tree Farm was granted
the right to rebuild 10 months following the blaze, in August 1998. It
began limited milk production less than four months later.
In addition, instead of losing business, Oak Tree’s sales increased by
approximately 10% during the reconstruction.
The company was able to keep its promise to hold on to all of its
Oak Tree Farm Dairy was subsequently named Huntington Township’s
’Business of the Year’ by the Chamber of Commerce.
Positive stories on Oak Tree’s reconstruction efforts appeared in
significant local media outlets, Epoch 5 reports. Stories appeared in
newspapers including Newsday, The New York Times, The New York Daily
News, Suffolk Life, The Long Islander and the Huntington News. Stories
also aired on local TV stations including News12 Long Island, Long
Island News Tonight and TV 55 News.
Epoch 5’s crisis communications efforts earned it the Public Relations
Society of America’s Silver Anvil Award in June. ’Epoch 5 appears to be
the first Long Island, NY-based firm to earn a Silver Anvil Award,’
notes Douglas Vandewinckel, vice president.
Epoch 5 is working with the Oak Tree Dairy Farm to continue to rebuild
the company’s reputation, says Vandewinckel. ’We will be exploring other
types of PR and marketing activities that will increase the company’s
market penetration down the road,’ he explains. - Debra S. Hauss
MARKETING COMMUNICATION - Milking an ad campaign
Clients: California Milk Processor Board
PR Team: Hill & Knowlton (Irvine, CA); Roxana Lissa PR & Marketing (Los
Campaign: ’got milk?’
Time Frame: Spring 1994 to present
Budget: dollars 250,000
Although milk has always been marketed as ’good for you,’ competition
from other beverages has been driving down consumption for years, from
29 gallons per capita in 1980 to 23 gallons in 1998.
The California Milk Processor Board (CMPB) responded with an
award-winning advertising campaign, but it admits that its early PR
efforts were expensive and lacked focus. Finally, following advice from
its agencies, the board changed its strategy. It decided that the way to
attract the media was to promote not milk, but the popular ads
The board’s original idea was to promote milk as an accompaniment to
food. The eventual strategy was to get the consumer to consider the
prospect of running out of milk with, say, a bowl of Cheerios or a pile
of chocolate chip cookies. This developed into the now famous ’got
milk?’ ads, which also became PR vehicles.
’We’ve never publicized the product in this PR campaign,’ says Jeff
Manning, executive director of CMPB. ’The media told us there was no
news in milk. But they said they loved the slogan.’
After the ’got milk?’ TV campaign won a coveted Grand Clio award in
1994, the CMPB convinced United Airlines to screen the ads alongside the
inflight movie for a couple of months. Then Dairy Management, an
affiliated group, went on TV stations Fox and Nickelodeon encouraging
children to write their own ’got milk?’ commercials, which were then
produced. The children wound up on Tonight with Jay Leno, where they
spent 10 minutes talking about their individual campaign ideas as the
spots were aired.
’You couldn’t buy that kind of coverage,’ says Manning, a 25-year agency
veteran. ’And again, it had nothing to do with milk itself. If we had
tried to pitch Leno about milk, he would have laughed at us. That kind
of thing has been true for the last six years.’
Milk sales in California, which had been declining 3% to 4% a year, have
been flat since 1994. And that’s a win? ’That is an enormous win,’
confirms Manning, ’because the sales would have been dramatically lower
if we had not had this program. Annual consumption per capita would have
continued downward to 19 gallons.’ The campaign has also scored over 90%
awareness, he adds.
A bonus came in mid-1995 when the National Dairy Boards licensed the
campaign from CMPB. Another developed when dozens of nondairy marketers
began ’ripping off’ the slogan with such headlines as ’Got Beanies?’,
’Got Porn?’, ’Got Jesus?’ Procter & Gamble sought an official OK to use
’Got Teeth?’ for its Crest toothpaste ads.
Manning loves the awareness this generates, but he says: ’When it’s done
in a way that is disparaging to the campaign, we will fire off a ’cease
and desist’ order.’
Meanwhile, stories containing the slogan appear daily. When calcium
standards were revised last year, for example, virtually every story
about the new regulations started with the words: ’got milk?’
Following a front-page June 3 Wall Street Journal article on the
campaign, three independent TV stations called offering to run the
spots, and newspapers throughout the country reran the Journal
Manning initiated a tie-in with Dole in 1997, paying less than dollars
30,000 for stickers to place on some 100 million bananas, a move that
generated national coverage. Mattel called in 1996 and suddenly there
was a ’got milk?’ Barbie, which attracted even more press interest.
’Frankly,’ Manning acknowledges, ’it’s going to be very tough to
continue to hold our own, because of competitive pressures. But the
national dairy industry has invested well over a half-billion marketing
and promotion dollars in California behind ’got milk?’ and we’ll
definitely stay with that.’ While he admits most of the budget has gone
toward advertising, he adds: ’If it hadn’t been for the publicity about
the advertising, we’d never be close to where we are today.’ - Alvin M.
PRODUCT AWARENESS - An aspirin a day keeps Dr. away
Client: Bayer (Morristown, NJ);American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists (Washington, DC)
PR Team: Golin/Harris (Chicago); RCM Broadcast Communications (New
Campaign: HeartStrong Woman
Time Frame: Dec. 10, 1998
Who suffers more from cardiovascular disease - men or women? In a survey
by Yankelovich Partners, half of the respondents believed that men are
more likely than women to suffer a heart attack. The fact is, women over
the age of 50 are at greater risk.
The first-ever national survey measuring both men’s and women’s
perceptions of the risks of heart attacks and strokes provided the
impetus and news hook for Bayer aspirin’s HeartStrong Woman
Developed by Golin/Harris International (G/H) for its client Bayer
Consumer Care (Morristown, NJ), the campaign is an educational
initiative designed to generate awareness of cardiovascular disease
among women aged 35 and over, and the important role a low-dose aspirin
regimen can play in helping to reduce the risk.
According to account group supervisior Trisha Alexander at G/H: ’Men
recognize their risk, but most women don’t.’
In PR strategy sessions, it was determined that women were an untapped
target for the Bayer brand, which led to the Heartstrong Woman
Since the majority of women receive their care from their ob-gyn, G/H
and Bayer partnered with the American College of Obstetricians and
To drive the message home, the ACOG’s annual press briefing in December
1998 focused on cardiovascular diseases for women. It was attended by 26
reporters from media outlets including McCall’s, Vogue, Family Circle
They were provided with survey results and information on assessing risk
factors for cardiovascular disease, as well as details of aspirin’s role
in preventing the disease in women and a toll-free number for consumers
to call to receive a brochure.
A satellite media tour featured ACOG spokesperson and immediate past
president Dr. Vicki Seltzer of Long Island Jewish Hospital. Russell
Cheek, president of RCM Broadcast Communications., developed and shot
Cheek was consulted on a crucial element: the timing of the SMT
Instead of scheduling a straight three- to four-hour period of
interviews, RCM scheduled clusters of interviews, going up and down on
the satellite within a five-hour period. ’We take the ’yo-yo’ approach,’
This is done according to the timing of morning magazine type shows,
midday news shows or early morning wake up shows, depending on the state
and time zone. In between satellite broadcasts, the spokesperson does
radio and print interviews.
’By not confining ourselves within a certain window of time, we maximize
the chance of more live interviews and it gives us the opportunity to
reach as many of the targeted morning programs as possible,’ Cheek
More importantly, critical key messages don’t get edited out in live
More than one million copies of the consumer brochure printed were
distributed to 30,000 ob-gyn offices nationwide. A second run containing
a Bayer coupon was reprinted in July.
Requests were generated by the SMT, press kits, an audio news release,
and a release containing a toll-free number. Just one placement in
Parade magazine in January generated 15,000 calls, reports Alexander.
She says the SMT provided ’incredible results, far beyond what a normal
one usually brings in.’ While only nine interviews were scheduled, the
SMT initiated 160 airings. ’NBC Newsfeed picked up a generic interview
and fed it to all their affiliates nationwide. That doesn’t happen with
every SMT,’ says Alexander.
The focus of the program will remain on women ages 35+. For wider
exposure, a web site has been developed (www.heartstrongwoman.com).
The Bayer aspirin sales force will be distributing more brochures to a
network of cardiologists’ offices to target women who may have already
had a cardiovascular incident or who accompany their husbands on
appointments. - Deborah Hauss.