Tupperware has been fighting an image of being an old-fashioned brand. Along with its PR agency DeVries Public Relations, it has fought back with some clever programs to rejuvenate the name.
The agency and client have been working on the concept of "expecting the unexpected" to bring Tupperware's image out of the 1950s and focus on what is new in today's world.
The issue was how to contemporize a brand that has brand awareness, but feels dated, says Lisa Pearson, MD of DeVries.
"How do you transition from food storage to contemporary lifestyle positioning?" Pearson asks. "What we wanted to do was capitalize on the brand heritage and move it forward."
The team aimed to make Tupperware seem more contemporary and to remind consumers that it is a worldwide brand.
"It's a global business, but people think of it as total Americana," Pearson says.
The agency and client leveraged Tupperware's high profile in the design world and devised the Translations in Tupperware Global Design Contest.
The contest challenged entrants worldwide to create Tupperware-inspired designs, as off-the-wall as they might be. The prize for the winners included a six-day, five-night trip for two to New York and $5,000.
DeVries and Tupperware assembled a panel of high-profile judges, such as architect David Rockwell and Knoll's former deputy of design Carl Magnusson, to add to the contest's credibility. After judges chose the winners, the team hosted a three-day event in which it displayed the top entries at New York's Time Warner Center, which draws daily foot traffic of 40,000.
"We wanted to make sure consumers could touch and feel this," Pearson says. "It helped contribute to the media success."
People from 23 countries entered the contest. One woman made a Formula One racing car, one designed a wedding dress adorned with glittery white Tupperware lids, and one woman made a fish.
"You can't imagine what people can do with this as a medium," Pearson says.
An AP feature led to 125 million media impressions for the three days of the display. The peak of coverage was a Business section feature in The New York Times Sunday edition, with a photo of Tupperware CEO Rick Goings and the product, in wedding dress form.
In addition, groups of people attended the event, says Elinor Steele, PR director at Tupperware Brands Corp.
"We were contacted by a teacher from the public schools in New York," Steele notes, and Tupperware arranged a field trip. "We were able to take them through, and that gave them a great appreciation for how ingenious some of the creations were," she says. "Afterward, we received a stack of letters from the children, thanking us."
DeVries will work with Tupperware again on the 2007 contest. Many judges have also asked to be included on this year's panel.
"To stay true to the theme, we will put Tupperware with unexpected people, in unexpected places," Pearson says. The design contest may move to another city, possibly Miami.
PR team: Tupperware (Orlando, FL) and DeVries Public Relations (New York)
Campaign: Translations in Tupperware Global Design Contest
Duration: March to October 2006
In staying within the theme of "expect the unexpected," Tupperware and DeVries did an excellent job taking this product where it had not been before. No one would think of the brand and expect to see a giant turkey made out of Tupperware spoons, as just one example. The event was well placed, capitalizing on the Time Warner Center's status as a shopping mecca, and the contest itself inspired consumers to use their creativity to reinvent Tupperware. Tupperware and DeVries also succeeded by making Goings available to the media, and his presence kept the features lighthearted and fun.