CAMPAIGNS: Branding - Hobart uses web to prove ubiquity

Hobart Corporation, a commercial food equipment manufacturer, offers products that span the restaurant and supermarket industries. Its equipment is also present in government facilities, theme parks, stadiums, airlines, universities, hotels, and hospitals. Clearly a pervasive force in the food industry, Hobart was still faced with a challenge: How can a company demonstrate "everywhereness"?

Strategy

Patty Sorrell, senior PR consultant for HSR Business to Business, says her firm sought a way to express "the breadth of offering and the depth of knowledge of the food markets that Hobart possesses.

"Getting our name out there was not the issue, boasts Dean Landeche, VP of brand marketing for Hobart. "We wanted to get direct user feedback so we could remarket the information, and attract new users."

Tactics

HSR and Hobart announced a web-based contest, through which the winner would be awarded a trip for two to anywhere in the world, with a generous budget of $12,000. The only requirement for eligibility was that entrants had to be users of any Hobart product.

To enter, visitors to the Hobart website had to contribute a brief statement about the experience they'd had with the product. Only testimonials that were "consistent with Hobart's business objectives," as Landeche puts it, were posted on the site, but any and all contributors were entered into the drawing.

Results

Hobart received a wealth of customer testimonials that can be used to demonstrate the widespread presence of its products. Admittedly, says Landeche, "We are not the lowest-priced guys on the block, so this feedback reinforces how satisfied our users are, and how worth the extra cost our products are."

One indebted posting reads, "Dorothy Lane Markets, an independent food retailer in Dayton, OH, wanted a cleaner look for its deli counter. A wireless solution was sought, and Hobart's Quantum Wireless Scales came to the rescue. After installing the first wireless scale, I was hooked!"

Michael Pentimone of Apex, NC raves, "Hobart dough mixers are heavy-duty and last forever. The dough comes out perfectly every time, and I can always count on it working for me. Everyone should try Hobart's products."

By the end of the contest, Hobart had received over 425 entries, and selected a winner on May 31.

Future

Going forward, the customer testimonials will remain posted on Hobart's website. Additionally, the company will use the testimonials to pitch media outlets and trade journals. Copies of some of the statements will be distributed to Hobart's sales force, partly as a motivational tool, and also as material for them to use when pitching prospective clients.

As Landeche points out, "When people hear that someone has had the same mixer for 30 years, they realize that the 3%-5% markup is not that big a deal."

Client: Hobart Corporation (Troy, OH)
PR Team: HSR Business to Business (Cincinnati)
Campaign: "Here There and Everywhere"
Time Frame: September 2001-May 2002
Budget: $30,000

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