CAMPAIGNS: Consumer PR - Parents snuggle up with books and kids

Client: Snuggle Fabric Softener, Greenwich, CT

Agency: Cairns & Associates, New York City

Campaign: National Bedtime Story Month

Time Frame: Mid-2000 through April 2001

Budget: Under $400,000

Crafting a campaign that lets a branding message shine without

over-commercializing the purpose of the initiative is a challenge.

Snuggle wanted to alert parents to the benefits of reading to their

kids, but realized that it wasn't all that simple. Literate in creating

public-service campaigns for high-profile brands, NY-based Cairns &

Associates came in to help Snuggle spread the word on the benefits of

reading to children, as well as promote the Snuggle brand.


Snuggle execs had long been interested in the issue of literacy, and it

was Cairns who came up with the idea of Snuggle National Bedtime Story

Month and lined up the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) as the

appropriate partner. Snuggle helped solidify the support with a $200,000 donation.

Cairns and Snuggle were vigilant in making sure the primary message

centered on the importance of reading to kids, and not fabric softener.

"National Bedtime Story Month and the affiliation with the NCFL allowed

the Snuggle brand to reach its consumers in a strategic, non-commercial

manner," notes Snuggle brand manager Matt Smith. "Successful PR

campaigns connect the core values of the brand to a cause that resonates

with its target audience."

Cairns worked to sanitize the press materials to take out most of the

commercial references. "It offered sound counsel to parents on how to

make bedtime reading rich and meaningful," says agency founder and

president Anne Marie Cairns.

Cairns enlisted the participation of high-profile celebrities - most

notably spokesperson Jane Seymour - to provide the glamorous hook that

further triggered interest among journalists. Cheryl Tiegs, Christie

Brinkley, Holly Robinson Peete, and Kim Alexis also joined the effort at

no cost to tout the joys and benefits of reading to children on a

nightly basis.


With April set as National Bedtime Story Month, Cairns began reaching

out to parenting outlets in November 2000 with a presentation kit that

provided not just evidence from pediatricians and psychologists on the

benefits of reading to children, but also advice on how to create the

right environment and reading ritual. The kit also included a list of

top children's books.

As April drew near, Cairns began setting up interviews and an SMT with

Seymour and NCFL president Sharon Darling. The agency also produced a

b-roll, and set up a radio interview tour with 15 stations around the


The month kicked off with an event at New York's Children's Museum of

Manhattan (attended by Seymour, Alexis, and others), which aired as a

live web-cast on www.snuggletime. com. The agency also helped with six

other celebrity pajama/bedtime reading events around the country during


Cairns ensured that not only was the National Bedtime Story Month logo -

which features the Snuggle name and bear icon - included in the

coverage, but that the URL was present as well. Cairns

explains, "On the site, Snuggle then had the opportunity to sell the

brand a little more intensely."


Snuggle National Bedtime Story Month ended up being the type of "good

news" service story that generates massive coverage, including The New

York Times, The Philadelphia Daily News, the Boston Herald, and

magazines like Family Circle, Parenting, and Baby Talk. TV exposure

included Seymour appearances on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, The O'Reilly

Factor, and Fox & Friends, while launch-event attendee Kelly Ripa touted

the initiative on Live with Regis & Kelly. The b-roll aired on numerous

stations across the country, including CNN Headline News.

The website received more than three million hits in the

month of April alone.


Cairns is already working with Snuggle on a similar program for next

year. "We're calling it Snuggle Up and Read Month because we want to

extend the opportunity to read out loud to your kids beyond bedtime,"

says Cairns. "Once again, we'll focus on the benefits you can give your

kids by reading to them."

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