CAMPAIGNS: CMC begins move to grow cranberry demand in the US

PR Team: Cranberry Marketing Committee (Wareham, MA) and Publicis Dialog (Seattle) Campaign: Cranberry Marketing Committee Domestic Marketing Time Frame: October 2002 - ongoing Budget: $500,000 ($1.5 million over 3 years)

PR Team: Cranberry Marketing Committee (Wareham, MA) and Publicis Dialog (Seattle) Campaign: Cranberry Marketing Committee Domestic Marketing Time Frame: October 2002 - ongoing Budget: $500,000 ($1.5 million over 3 years)

Cranberries are a ubiquitous part of Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. But cranberry growers and marketers want people to think about their product at other times as well. In recent years, supply has outpaced demand, depressing prices. The Cranberry Marketing Committee (CMC), an organization established by the USDA to market cranberries, already had been trying to promote cranberries in export markets such as Germany and Japan, and wanted to raise the visibility of cranberries in the US as well. Strategy While some of the health benefits of cranberries have been known for years (their ability to help with urinary tract infections being the most notable), recent research has uncovered cranberries' ability to prevent bacteria from adhering to human cells. That research has implications for cranberries' ability to help prevent bacteria-caused ulcers and gum disease. With consumer interest in healthy foods high, Publicis Dialog - retained by the CMC - decided that this new research provided details that could raise the profile of cranberries. It created a three-year plan to target healthcare pros and consumers. "Consumers are interested in more and better health information, but they are very skeptical," says John Bissell, senior principal and group management director for Publicis' food commodities division. The campaign targets the majority of its initial efforts at healthcare professionals, building credibility that consumers can rely on. "The industry has taken the position that we're going to get to health professionals and consumers. We want to get demand up," says David Farrimond, general manager of the CMC. Tactics The announcement of National Cranberry Month on October 1 was used as an opportunity to create a VNR featuring health professionals talking about the benefits of cranberries. A media kit was created, touting health benefits and discussing new research. The kits were sent to food editors interested in holiday cranberry stories, and had a strong health emphasis. A radio media tour was held October 1 featuring a Rutgers professor who has been instrumental in cranberry research. The drive continued at the American Dietitians Association conference in October. The marketing committee ran a booth in cooperation with the Cranberry Research Institute, featuring information on health research related to cranberries. A monthly electronic newsletter was launched for health pros, and included information such as health benefits, where to get more information, new studies, and various ways to incorporate cranberries into daily eating habits. "Our goal is to let people know they can get health benefits all year," says Bissell. In addition, local grower and industry groups are being provided with turnkey materials that they can use in local promotion efforts. Results The VNR created for Cranberry Month received airtime in 116 markets. The radio media tour also produced airtime. Print coverage included The New York Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune. The campaign had hoped to garner 10 million-20 million consumer media impressions for the year; initial efforts have produced 19.7 million impressions. Roughly 600 health information kits were distributed at the dietitians' conference, where 1,000 healthcare professionals visited the cranberry booth. Future Publicis plans to create a scientific advisory board to review research and claims to ensure they're credible and supported by legitimate research. Also, a Cranberry Institute Health Research Symposium is planned for 2003. Efforts will be made to target health trade journals with bylined research from healthcare pros. Consumer food publications will also be targeted throughout the year with information on how cranberries can be used in recipes and for occasions other than Thanksgiving. Ongoing first-year efforts will be targeted about 80% toward health professionals, tilt to about 60% to health professionals in the second year, and level out to 50% in the third year. "We wanted to start by building a strong foundation," Farrimond says of targeting healthcare over consumers. Publicis hopes to do an annual survey of consumers and healthcare professionals to gauge awareness of cranberries and their health benefits, Bissell says. The marketing committee wants to see US per capita consumption increase from its present two pounds per person of all types of cranberry products.

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