Ocean Spray highlights its growers in new campaign

LAKEVILLE-MIDDLEBORO, MA: Ocean Spray is celebrating its growers in a new campaign aimed at showing that cranberries are harvested close to home.

LAKEVILLE-MIDDLEBORO, MA: Ocean Spray is celebrating its growers in a new campaign aimed at showing that cranberries are harvested close to home.

“In today's world, consumers are wondering where ingredients and products come from. The fact is cranberry growing is happening across North America and probably not far from where people live,” Larry Martin, VP of marketing, told PRWeek. “Some companies have tried to use this kind of story to their advantage in the marketplace, but this is our story. We've been quiet about it, but we need to celebrate it and make consumers aware of it.”

Ocean Spray will communicate that story by, for the first time, sharing the personal stories and photos of real growers, both on product labels and online. The labels featuring growers will begin appearing in the spring, though the rest of the campaign has already launched. The marketing effort builds on the company's four-year-old advertising campaign, “Straight from the Bog,” which featured actors rather than real growers.

“You could be a consumer in Chicago, who could pick up a bottle featuring a grower from Wisconsin just up the lake,” Martin said. “We want to reinforce that this product came from a real farmer.”

The campaign, which coincides with Ocean Spray's 80th anniversary, also serves to inform consumers about the company's unique ownership model. Ocean Spray is an agricultural cooperative, owned by more than 600 cranberry growers in the US and Canada, as well as more than 50 Florida grapefruit growers.

Real growers will also take part in Ocean Spray's ongoing “Bogs Across America” events, which transform landmark sites into free-standing “bog” exhibits containing thousands of pounds of cranberries. (Bogs are soft, marshy grounds where cranberries grow.)

To kick off the new campaign, a bog event was held October 6 at Rockefeller Center featuring the May family, who have been harvesting cranberries for three generations in Richmond, BC. The family ended up being interviewed on the Today show. “The blogs are a successful way for media to cover our story,” said Martin.

Ocean Spray also plans to set up bogs in other cities, including Miami to reach Hispanic consumers. Martin said they are also in discussion to set up bogs in Richmond, BC, to coincide with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Winter Games being held February 12 to 28 (nearby Richmond is hosting some of the events).

The City of Richmond plans to use the Olympic attention to position itself as a great world city. “Cranberry growing happens to be the city's largest agricultural crop, so they've asked us to partner with them,” said Martin. “The city is expecting a lot of media attention.”

Ocean Spray's AOR Weber Shandwick is assisting with the effort.

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