Golin drives peanut tour beyond US border

ATLANTA: Golin/Harris International has been tapped to take the giant traveling peanut exhibit global.

ATLANTA: Golin/Harris International has been tapped to take the giant traveling peanut exhibit global.

The $1.8 million National Peanut Tour is funded by the National Peanut Board, and will market one of the nation's top cash crops to the US' neighbors to the North and South in a uniquely American fashion. American peanut exporters will get an additional $2 million in support during this period from the USDA Agriculture Service.

The 32-foot peanut on wheels will begin driving through Canada and Mexico for a four-month tour. It will move through Mexico in March, making its way North to Canada from May through July.

NPB executive director R. Marie Rizzo said the industry wants to grow the gourmet snack-nut category beyond the US. She credits Atlanta agency Hope-Beckham for conceiving the idea of the tour, and drawing millions of consumers to it over the past two years.

"You need a creative platform to tell your story that gives you something for the news to cover," said agency president Bob Hope. "The world's largest peanut as a moving vehicle was good for that."

The nutmobile contains an interactive exhibit on the history of the peanut that showcases trivia such as how many peanuts it takes to make peanut butter (which, as it happens, was the secret behind TV's talking horse, Mr. Ed). A celebrity chef and a mascot, Buddy McNutty, also traveled with the exhibit.

"We've had many requests from our international partners that we carry this same excitement to their markets," said Rizzo. "Mexico and Canada make the most sense because they are our largest markets, and they are the most economically feasible and cost-efficient."

Golin is tasked with retro-fitting the exhibit with Spanish and French-Canadian materials, as well as hiring and training staffers who speak those languages. The firm is also working to develop nutritional information and recipes that reflect the cultural nuances of these very different markets.

Whereas the US tour leveraged the captive audiences at sporting venues, the international tour will predominantly take place at major retail locations. The firm is already forging alliances with retailers like Sam's Club and Costco to provide venues for the tour. Golin is also creating cross-promotions with Kraft Foods, Nestle, and others.

Golin Atlanta GM Mitch Head led the win for the agency. His association with the peanut industry reaches back to 1981, when he worked for Ketchum in New York. He later served as executive director for the Peanut Advisory Board before being hired by Golin.

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