NORWALK, CT: Firefighter Brand Products is using a range of PR tactics to tout its food and beverage products as they roll out to supermarkets in Florida and suburban New York.
"The brand is being primarily driven by PR," said Mike Rosen, SVP and partner at Bratskeir & Company, the New York-based agency working on the campaign.
Actual firefighters are being paid to appear at in-store sampling events and product is being offered to local fire departments at cost for use in fund-raising efforts, said Rosen.
In Norwalk, three local fire department chiefs will be at an event October 7 in which the company will donate funds for the departments to buy 1,200 smoke detectors to be distributed in their towns.
Bratskeir has five people working on the account, targeting consumer and supermarket trade publications. "A key goal is to tell the story not just to consumers but to other retailers," Rosen said.
The Firefighter brand grew out of an effort 10 years ago by a Tennessee fireman to sell soda for a local fundraiser. An Indiana Wal-Mart eventually began carrying the firefighter's cola.
In 2003, the company brought John Bello, who had created Sobe brand beverages and then sold it to Pepsi, on board to take the brand national. Bello, who had worked with Bratskeir in the past, added the agency to the mix.
The company has pledged to donate 25% of its annual net profits to firefighter-related causes and has pledged to donate its first $1 million in anticipation of future sales.