Chocolat Michel Cluizel (CMC) made its name as a super-premium chocolatier in Paris, where its flagship store is located. When the company moved into the North American market in 2005 with a location in New York's Union Square, it hired The Morris & King Co. (MKC) to garner press coverage and position the store as the leading destination for New York chocolate connoisseurs.
"Most fine chocolate stores treat the chocolate like jewelry, and the environment is sterile to austere," says CMC CEO Richard Perl. "We wanted something that was passionate." CMC chose PR as its primary means of promotion, with a media relations focus. "It needed quality, creative press that was going to put the product and the story behind [it] in the eyes of people who could write about it," Perl says.
Justin Kazmark, who led the account for MKC, says he positioned Perl "as a chocolate sommelier and part of the cocoa cognoscenti" to broaden his appeal. As the city's only fine chocolate store with a liquor license, the company decided to use differentiating events like chocolate tastings and a reputation for a legacy of gourmet creations to compete with larger, better-financed rivals.
MKC's work landed an immediate hit in The New York Times heralding the store's opening, as well as local, regional, national (USA Today, Good Morning America), and virtual coverage. Kazmark notes, via e-mail, "I know that in marketing efforts, brand recognition has [gone up] due to the increase in media visibility, and therefore, they've been able to put together marketing programs with more facility."
MKC and CMC continue to work together. Kazmark says the next move is to christen CMC's neighborhood as "the chocolate district" of New York.
PR team: Chocolat Michel Cluizel (New York) and The Morris & King Co. (New York)
Campaign: Building visibility for Chocolat Michel Cluizel
Duration: September 2005-ongoing
Budget: Less than $200,000