PR WEEK AWARDS 2001: CAMPAIGN - The PRWeek Campaign of the Year 2001


Cone and ConAgra Foods: 'Feeding Children Better'

How do you make a community out of hundreds of ConAgra brands? How do you unite 80,000 employees and 80 very independent operating companies across the country? Is it really possible to endorse a cause which resonates with all your stakeholders? ConAgra, with the help of Cone, did all that and more, with a stunning campaign tackling the issue of child hunger in the US.

Like most great ideas, the concept was a simple one. But the thinking behind the strategy, the thoroughness with which it was researched, and the execution, were all brilliant.

The genesis of the idea came from ConAgra's previously generous but unfocused philanthropic efforts. Con-Agra was looking for a way to turn its 'shotgun' approach into a 'cannon shot' based on a single issue.

For a food company with products in every aisle of the grocery store, child hunger was a natural fit. But Cone felt it was important to ensure the issue was a truly pressing one, and interviewed nearly 50 research hunger experts, organizations and government officials, and reviewed online information, books, articles, reports, studies and position papers on hunger. To ensure that the program would be 'ownable,' Cone also conducted benchmark research into ConAgra's competitors, their philanthropy programs and other businesses with hunger programs.

Research uncovered the severity of the situation: 12 million children in America go to bed hungry on a regular basis. This was an issue on which Con-Agra could really make a difference. But it was far from a PR slam dunk, because there was a misconception that the economic boom in the US had eradicated childhood hunger, and that those who went hungry were simply lazy.

As you can read on p. 49, the resulting three-year program launched last year is a powerful force for good. But the PR achievement is also substantial.

The program has raised awareness of child hunger as never before. With 65 million media impressions, ConAgra is quickly emerging as the corporate voice for childhood hunger. Cone has also secured several vital partnerships with the nation's leaders in the fight against childhood hunger, including the Center on Hunger and Poverty, actor Jeff Bridges' End Hunger Network, and the Ad Council, which agreed to a three-year campaign delivering dollars 100 million in ads.

The program has been enthusiastically supported by employees, too. More than 70 ConAgra plants and operating facilities responded to CEO Bruce Rohde's Holiday Challenge, which raised hundreds of thousands of pounds of food by offering winning communities grants for local feeding programs. County Line Cheese, a ConAgra brand, even developed a cause marketing promotion asking shoppers to participate, too.

All this has been achieved in just one year. And remember, 'Feeding Children Better' is a three-year program. The best is yet to come.

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