CAMPAIGNS: Branding - Survey helps Life Savers fill PR hole

Client: Kraft Confections

PR Team: Coyne PR

Campaign: The Hole Truth survey

Time Frame: Summer 2001

Budget: under $250,000



Do you suck or bite?



That was the question that got the whole thing started.



Or rather, the Hole thing, as in the Hole Truth Survey. But rather than

start in the center, it's worth beginning - in a roundabout way - with

the sweet part of Coyne PR's idea for client Life Savers.



Strategy



To get people across all demographics talking about 90-year-old Life

Savers candy, the brand needed to make news. "We were looking to have

Life Savers positioned as a fun brand that people associate with whimsy

and enjoying themselves," says Tom Coyne, president of Coyne PR, which

works with the Kraft Confections division, the home of Life Savers

candies. "They wanted to contemporize the brand. It's an American icon,

and we wanted to remind the American public how great it really is."



The goal was to raise top-of-mind awareness by reminding people of the

joy of eating Life Savers. The brand was banking on an upcoming contest

to increase sales, so Coyne PR created the Hole Truth Survey to generate

buzz by getting people's jaws working, and talking about the candy with

the hole in the middle.



Tactics



Coyne PR commissioned and promoted a national survey on Life Savers.

People were asked whether they suck or bite their candies, their

favorite flavors, and other demographic questions. By presenting results

by city (Bostonians like Wint-O-Green Life Savers, while the rest of the

country prefers cherry), by eating habits (nine out of 10 Chicagoans

said they suck their Life Savers), and even by political party

(Republicans are more likely than Democrats to share), the agency was

able to serve up bite-size mouthfuls of candy-coated news to both

national and local media outlets. "(The survey) touched up on our Life

Savers truisms, things we have always known - that emotional connection

the consumer has with the product," says Elisabeth Wenner, manager of

communications for Kraft Confections.



Reporters and editors were sent media kits with survey results, along

with free samples of Life Savers candies. Beginning the week that the

news broke, five staffers pitched the story for two weeks straight.



A team of three continued with follow-up calls for another month. Coyne

says that the main complaint of the agency executives making the

follow-up calls was reporters trying to speak while sucking on Life

Savers.



Results



The results of the Hole Truth Survey broke in Newsweek, two Associated

Press stories, and in USA Today. From there, the agency hit local

markets' print media outlets. Coyne PR sent a package without b-roll to

TV stations in the top 20 markets, and 12 markets had one or two

affiliates create their own stories. The overall program earned 98

million media impressions with 1,008 media placements, including the

National Examiner, The Indianapolis Star, and The Cincinnati Post.



Coyne PR also sent a package to the top 100 morning radio drive-time

shows. Of the 45 that used the information, results ranged from talking

about the survey, to DJs holding a Life Savers suck-off to find out who

could finish one first. Coyne praises the radio time as some of the best

buzz coverage won by the campaign: "The survey really caught on on the

radio, which is good, because radio chatter is very important."



Future



The agency has expanded its work with Kraft Confections, which Coyne

attributes partially to the success of the Life Savers campaign. "We

showed that we could produce strategic results that were sustainable,"

he says. "That was very well received with the client."



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