Cinnabon sees its future in cupcakes

Cinnabon wanted to launch a new cupcake product by original Cinnabon creator Jerilyn Brusseau, as well as celebrate the retailer's 25th anniversary.

Company: Focus Brands
Campaign: Cinnabon Cupcake launch
PR Team: Internal and The Rogers Group
Launch: January-March 2010
Budget: $55-$75,000

Objective: Cinnabon wanted to launch a new cupcake product by original Cinnabon creator Jerilyn Brusseau, as well as celebrate the retailer's 25th anniversary.
  
“Retail and mall traffic have been a challenge in the past few years,” said Jennifer Dempsey, senior PR director at Cinnabon parent Focus Brands. “We want to augment the idea of being a baked-good concept and capitalize on what- ever trend is out there at the moment, like the cupcake.”
  
The cupcake idea emerged as one of the “ways to take us through the next 25 years,” she added.

Idea: The team hired The Rogers Group to help implement a PR effort as the new cupcakes rolled out to stores from January to the end of March. It plans to leverage Brusseau's reputation to raise awareness of the new product among its target of moms and mall-goers, and emphasize fun and quality with a tagline of, “Really fun with Cinnabon Cupcakes. Everything else is a cupfake.”
  
“We want cupcake fans to know they can get cupcakes in malls and airports,” said Brenda Lynch, SVP at Rogers.
  
Dempsey noted PR's key role at Cinnabon, which “is not an ad-based concept,” she explained. “It's a captive-audience location in airports and malls; it's an impulse buy.”

Tools: The team invited mommy, food, and regional bloggers to a mid-February launch event at Brusseau's farmhouse in Seattle. Social media also has a role, as the team posts Twitter updates, videos of people trying the new cupcakes on YouTube and Facebook, and images on Flickr.
  
“This is a first for us,” said Dempsey. “It's time to utilize the outstanding resource [social media] provides.”
  
There was also traditional media outreach, such as a cupcake tasting and briefing with 10 editors of Meredith titles.
 
Measurement: Lynch explained that cupcake sales will indicate the level of success, in addition to “noise level in media” and the number of social media fans.

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