CAMPAIGNS: Best strategies and top tactics from the world of PR

COMMUNITY RELATIONS - Good to the last building block

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

telephone number.


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

70,000 volunteers.

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

competing brand.’


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

relations inferno.

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

nighttime noise.


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,’

says Heaviside.

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

Budget: N/A

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

Gynecologists (ACOG).


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

and Fitness.

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

the SMT.

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,’

he explains.

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 (

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.

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