FRESNO: The California Raisin Marketing Board (CRMB) is back, and it has named Morgan & Myers to launch a $1 million campaign to boost demand for California raisins in three key North American market sectors.
The grower-funded CRMB, best known for the 'I Heard it Through the Grapevine' claymation TV commercials of the late 1980s, was shut down in 1994. It seems the popular ads boosted consumer awareness of raisins but did not deliver increased demand.
Earlier this year, California raisin growers voted to reinstate the CRMB (previously called the California Raisin Advisory Board) and held a review of its PR account in October. The finalists were Morgan & Myers, Seattle-based Publicis/Evans and incumbent Ketchum PR.
Morgan & Myers president and CEO Gary Myers told PRWeek that the new campaign, slated to launch in mid-January, will be a three-pronged effort targeting the food ingredient, food service and retail/consumer markets.
'(The first campaign) was primarily consumer-focused,' Myers said. 'An advertising campaign can only do so much, and expectations are not well defined. One of our goals is to make sure that we're very clear on what it is we're going to do.'
But whether or not that will involve the famous singing raisins is not clear. Myers said they will probably not appear on TV, at least in the short term.
'It's extraordinarily costly to do that sort of thing,' he said. 'But we will see some personal appearances in support of special events, and point-of-purchase. There certainly is still some equity in those characters.'
Sara Thoms, managing director of M&M's Minneapolis office, will direct the account team. Thoms said the 1999 campaign will contain a 'call to action' that Ketchum's previous effort lacked.
Thoms also held out the possibility of hearing the raisins belt out Marvin Gaye once again.
'I wouldn't be surprised if the raisins appeared again,' she said. 'We have to look at how effective they might be as part of a logo design, or icon. We wouldn't do away with them, but we have to look carefully at how we can use them effectively.'
A majority of Morgan & Myers' clients are in the agricultural production, food processing or food marketing industries, including Pilsbury, Philip Morris and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.