Client: Snuggle Fabric Softener/Unilever (Greenwich, CT)
PR Team: Cairns & Associates (New York)
Campaign: Snuggle Celebrity Soft-T's
Time Frame: May 6 - May 23, 2002
Budget: Around $425,000
Last year, Snuggle Fabric Softener added a deeper dimension to its brand by sponsoring a series of events called National Bedtime Story Month, which benefited literacy efforts. That program's success confirmed what parent company Unilever and PR agency Cairns & Associates already knew about branding certain consumer products: "The media isn't going to write stories about how wonderful and lovely and soft Snuggle is, says Annemarie Cairns, founder of the agency.
"The brand issued a mandate that, based on their research, the consumer needed to have more of a buy-in to the superiority of Snuggle in terms of softness, Cairns explains.
With PR firmly entrenched as a function of Snuggle's core strategy team (the others are advertising, interactive, promotions, and media planning), creating a theme for an integrated program became essential. "(Unilever) understands that you don't get integrated communications unless everyone's singing the same song, says Cairns.
Therefore, it was necessary to come up with a program that was focused, yet subliminal. "We played around the concept that softness is not weakness, but strength, and that it's additional value, says Cairns. "Then we got into the whole area of what is a softie - a strong person who gives - and decided to use the celebrity connection, since it works very well for a low-interest category such as laundry."
On May 7, at a star-studded party in New York, more than 60 T-shirts designed by celebrities - from Rosie O'Donnell to George Clooney to Tara Lipinski - were unveiled, and officially put up for auction on eBay, with all proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Snuggle pitched in an additional $50,000 donation. The Snuggle website also acted as a portal to the section of eBay auctioning the shirts, making them easy to find and bid on.
"We created this marvelous box of supplies to give to celebrities, and asked them to donate their time, says Cairns. "We had some awesome participants.
I was really surprised how willing these folks were to lend a hand."
The promotion also extended into local markets, where radio DJs, for example, would decorate T-shirts and have them auctioned off as part of the promotion. The online auction was broken into a pair of two-week spans, the last of which ended May 23.
In addition to media coverage that spanned TV shows such as NBC's Today and Extra, newspapers such as the New York Post, Rocky Mountain News, and El Diario, and hits across radio, the internet, and a 17-market SMT by brand spokes-person Jane Seymour, Snuggle was able to raise close to $30,000 through sales of the celebrity-decorated T-shirts, in addition to its original $50,000 donation.
Meanwhile, traffic to the Snuggle website was up 500% during the promotion, according to Cairns, with over 125,000 unique users visiting Snuggle.com.
"If you talk about fabric softener, so much of your target is not going to listen - we needed to catch a ride with their emotions, and hit the heart, Cairns explains.
"Now the brand is looking at 2003, when they are going to significantly increase the PR budget, Cairns proudly proclaims. "We'll be using the platform created by PR to support volunteerism and actually touch the consumer, as we can't just send fluffy messages out through the media. You have to put your money where your mouth is. Don't just say you're good. Show you're good."