Cargill takes celebrity approach to liven up salt pitch

Last fall, Cargill Salt asked longtime AOR Carmichael Lynch Spong (CLS) to help launch its largest consumer-facing campaign to date.

Client: Cargill (Minneapolis, MN)
Agency: Carmichael, Lynch, Spong (Minneapolis, MN)
Campaign: Salt 101
October 2009 - April 2010
Budget: approximately $50,000

Last fall, Cargill Salt asked longtime AOR Carmichael Lynch Spong (CLS) to help launch its largest consumer-facing campaign to date. Marketing manager Kari Goldsmith says the team wanted to develop the campaign around a celebrity who could educate consumers on the unique properties and benefits of Diamond Crystal kosher salt and sea salt.

“To educate, we needed more contact and time with the consumer,” Goldsmith explains. “The celebrity needed to be a fan of the products who could articulate the differences and who was hugely popular with food enthusiast consumers. We wanted one-part salesmanship and two or three parts education.”

The team inked a deal with celebrity chef Alton Brown (creator and star of the Food Network's Good Eats). CLS principal Grete Lavrenz says Brown was targeted because he uses Diamond Crystal and was already knowledgeable about salt (he'd done an entire Good Eats show on the topic).

Goldsmith explains that the team decided to have video content drive the campaign because Brown is particularly effective at interacting with audiences on film. The team created to house video of Brown talking directly to viewers about salt and planned to have media relations drive traffic. The campaign also included advertising, public TV underwriting, and Brown's image at key trade shows.

Tactics launched on November 16. It has no static content. All information, which includes lessons and games, is communicated directly by Brown in short video vignettes. The site is divided into two areas: “The Kitchen” and “The Laboratory.” Messaging includes scientific information, the uniqueness and benefits Diamond Crystal salts, and how to best use the salts to season food.

The site is linked to Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon to encourage content sharing.

The team targeted food editors and bloggers, as well as media and blogs that follow Brown. Messaging stressed the site launch, framing it as an educational resource led by Brown.

Results has garnered 69,015 visits to date. Lavrenz says 90% are new visitors, each spending nearly 4 minutes on the site and viewing an average of 5.69 pages.

The campaign earned 27 million media impressions in outlets such as Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, and Tampa Tribune.

Goldsmith adds that the campaign also “opened windows” to discuss additional distribution outlets and deals, and that the alliance with Brown expanded visibility of the salt business unit within the overall Cargill corporation.

The team will continue media relations through April. Goldsmith says Cargill hopes to continue working with Brown, perhaps including in-person appearances this year with key culinary audiences.

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