CAMPAIGNS: Product PR - Henckels CEO makes the pitch

Client: JA Henckels (Solingen, Germany)

Client: JA Henckels (Solingen, Germany)

Client: JA Henckels (Solingen, Germany)

PR Team: The JB Cumberland Group (New York City)

Campaign: Launch of Twin Cast Cookware

Time Frame: May 2000 - July 2001

Budget: About dollars 200,000

Hiring a PR firm to promote a new line is routine for most


But JA Henckels is such an icon in the superior cutlery market, it

hasn’t used PR since its beginnings in 1731. However, when the company

broadened its offerings this year, creating Twin Cast Cookware, it

decided PR was needed; though it has no equal in its niche market,

Henckels faces fierce competition with pots and pans.


Henckels hired the Cumberland Group to handle its first-ever PR


The agency created a multifaceted effort, which included enlisting

president and CEO Karl Pfitzenreiter in a personalized campaign to pitch

magazine editors. The firm had concerns, however, about using a CEO with

no prior PR experience or specific media training.

To promote the cookware products, ranging from a dollars 90 10-inch

skillet to a dollars 500 10-piece set, the campaign needed to target a

rarified audience.

’We wanted to reach that niche who spend dollars 100 on a knife, who

insist on quality,’ says president Joanna Cumberland. So the team

targeted gourmet cooks and people getting married (and their gift-buying

relatives). ’To open the door to this new product, we wanted to inform

the media targeting consumers who pay attention. Name recognition would

do the rest.’


After launching the line at the Gourmet Products Show in Los Angeles in

May, Cumberland approached gourmet and related upscale publications like

Chocolatier, House & Garden, Town and Country, Wine Spectator and even

Playboy (it’s estimated that half of Twin Cast buyers will be men).

It also targeted bridal titles and topical quarterly specials like

kitchen and bath, cooking ideas and holiday ideas published by various


To personalize media contact, the team invited New York City editors to

call for an introduction to the new cookware, which would be presented

by Pfitzenreiter. In preparation, Cumberland lightly coached

Pfitzenreiter, telling him to stress features and benefits and be

prepared to encounter a range of personalities in the editors.


Editors were impressed. ’It could’ve been a disaster (to put a CEO with

no PR experience in direct media contact),’ Cumberland says. ’But he has

great presence, a wonderfully dry sense of humor and a genuine

enthusiasm for his product. Also, he’s an extremely good sport.’

The invitations elicited a 25% spontaneous response. In the personal

meetings, Pfitzenreiter turned over any Twin Cast product that the

editors or staff wanted to try. Hands-on availability allowed test

kitchens to demonstrate and compare.

Out of the 25 publications targeted, 75% have the cookware. Eighteen

publications have committed to coverage in upcoming issues.


JB Cumberland will expand its campaign to metropolitan magazines, Sunday

supplements and newspapers during the fourth quarter, when consumers

purchase cookware for holiday entertaining and as gift purchases. Next

spring, it will offer editors a chance to go to Germany to see where the

knives and cookware are made.

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