CAMPAIGNS: Flowers - Flower tug of war has fragrant end

Client: Flower Promotion Organization (Miami)

PR Team: Porter Novelli (Washington)

Campaign: Flowers: alive with possibilities

Time Frame: June 1999 - January 2002 Budget: dollars 10,000,000

Most cut flowers sold in the United States come from Colombia. So

American growers, convinced that the country was dumping its flowers

here, decided to take their counterparts to court.

The Justice Department found in favor of the Americans, and fined the

Colombians dollars 10 million. The court then forced the two sides to

work together to increase demand for cut flowers in the United States.

They were given 30 months to spend the settlement money. It was a

verdict of which King Solomon would have been proud.

So the American and Columbian growers set up the Flower Promotion

Organization (FPO).

It took 16 months for the two groups to get together and plan a

campaign; the launch finally happened in August 2000. 'Some people

consider it a minor miracle that they managed to come together at all,'

says Will Carlson, the FPO's American co-president.


FPO hired Porter Novelli to help increase consumer demand for flowers in

the US. The agency wanted to increase the frequency of flower purchases

by positioning flowers as a home decor solution, says Porter Novelli's

Stephen McCauley.

'Our target audience is the tiniest piece of the existing

flower-audience pie: it's women who are currently buying flowers for

themselves, says McCauley.

'It's the theory of the low-hanging fruit,' he continues. 'We're going

after people who already recognize the value of flowers, and that way we

don't have to overcome the typical barriers: flowers are expensive,

flowers are difficult to care for and it's hard to know which ones to

choose. We did a lot of testing with that group, and found out that all

they needed were new ideas for using flowers, without having to spend a

lot of money. And that's exactly what we gave them.'


The campaign presented flowers as useful as well as decorative: flowers

in the bathroom are an air freshener; flowers strategically placed on a

tablecloth can disguise a stain, etc. The agency pitched magazines and

local newspapers in the five target markets - San Diego, Philadelphia,

Detroit, Houston and Chicago.

They also devised a TV, radio and print ad campaign, set up booths at

flower shows, created a Web site and designed points-of-purchase

materials which were then given to flower retailers and wholesalers to

distribute to customers.


After the first six weeks of the campaign, a University of Florida study

found that the target audience - female cut flower buyers ages 25 to 55

- showed a 58% increase in the number of times they purchased



The campaign costs about dollars 1 million per city per year, which is

more than growers alone can afford. But under the terms of the court

settlement, if US growers can provide 25% of the cash needed to continue

the campaign for another 30 months, the Colombians will be forced to

foot the rest of the bill. So it seems likely the campaign will


The FPO is looking to persuade wire services and retailers to come on

board to help pay for a truly national campaign.

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