Aussie tie-in boosts Tim Tam debut

Tim Tam is an iconic, best-selling cookie brand in Australia that's made by Pepperidge Farm's (PF) sister company Arnott's.

Client: Pepperidge Farm (Norwalk, CT)
PR team: DeVries Public Relations (New York)
Campaign: Tim Tam US launch
Duration: Nov. 2008-March 2009
Budget: Under $100,000

Tim Tam is an iconic, best-selling cookie brand in Australia that's made by Pepperidge Farm's (PF) sister company Arnott's. PF asked its AOR DeVries Public Relations to help with a limited-time US launch through Target stores. The objective was to generate trials and excitement. “There is obsession with the product in Australia,” says Geri Allen, communications manager at PF. “We wanted to make it come to life in the US.” Marie Chan, senior marketing manager at PF, adds that it was important to start a dialogue by encouraging consumers to sample the cookies and share that experience.

“There are brand advocates that will go to the ends of the earth for Tim Tams,” Allen says. “Viral PR... let people who love Tim Tams help us along.”

The team decided to use sampling to generate buzz among media, bloggers, and consumers. Also, it planned to associate the brand with celebrities to help infiltrate American pop culture. The movie Australia, which stars Australians Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, opened during the campaign, and the team aimed to create a connection with the film and its stars to boost brand awareness.

Food and pop culture journalists and bloggers received samples and press releases. The team also distributed cookies at Australian-themed restaurants and bars in New York City and at events, such G'Day USA, a weeklong celebration of everything Australian, and at last fall's New York Wine And Food Festival.

It also created the Web site to help continue to spread the word. The site's content is primarily consumer generated, including videos, photos, and comments about Tim Tam experiences.

In early November, Arnott's told PF that Jackman planned to give away Tim Tam on The Oprah Winfrey Show, which he would appear on with Kidman to promote Australia. The team decided to leverage this unexpected opportunity and reach out to traditional media and the blogosphere.

Laura Springer, VP at DeVries, adds that the team used guerilla tactics at the New York movie premiere to get Tim Tam in Jackman's hands.

Additionally, Jackman was involved with G'Day USA, which drove more media coverage to the launch and carried further brand association for the cookies.

The team also worked with celebrity mom Jennie Garth (who Allen says fits the target profile), who agreed to pose with the cookies for a paparazzi shot outside a Target store.

Sales exceeded the target goal after only two months, and the cookies sold out six weeks ahead of the campaign's end. Also, the Web site has had 481,219 total pages visits, with nearly 70% opt-ins to get Tim Tam news.

In addition, an eBay auction for the last case of Tim Tam, signed by Jackman, which ended May 14 and at press time had a bid of $237.50, brought the campaign additional coverage.

Also, Top Chef judge Gail Simmons blogged about her love of Tim Tam cookies after sampling them at the New York Wine and Food Festival, which helped generate additional coverage and buzz.

“Overall, this is one of the most successful PR programs we've had at PF,” Allen says. She's very pleased with ROI, noting that the media impressions generated on this “very limited budget” were “pretty unbelievable.” She adds that selling out of the cookies was a bonus on top of what PF “already considered a big win.”

DeVries and PF plan to continue working together. PF is also looking at consumer feedback on the site to decide whether or not to bring Tim Tam back to the US, and Allen says that the team is considering approaching Jackman about a relationship if the plans move forward.

PRWeek's view
Both PF and DeVries say that “the stars aligned” with the Jackman connection, but it was the team's efforts that really catapulted this campaign to success. The team capitalized on Jackman's connection in a smart way and on very short notice, enabling the brand to garner the coveted celebrity endorsement. But it was also smart of the agency to cultivate and capitalize on brand passion that already existed in the US by directly engaging consumers, media, and bloggers. Additionally, the team was able to create a personal connection to the cookies by building an interactive Web site. This campaign is a great example of how putting the product in the right hands can really propel brand awareness.

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