Primo goes 'green' for its launch

Primo Water Corp. (PWC) hired Porter Novelli last spring to help launch its single-serve water, which is packaged in eco-friendly bottles made from plant-derived bioplastic.

Primo Water Corp. (PWC) hired Porter Novelli last spring to help launch its single-serve water, which is packaged in eco-friendly bottles made from plant-derived bioplastic. The launch objective was to generate awareness and demand among 25- to 50-year-old moms.

The team faced challenges of breaking into the category and industry concerns about how to recycle bioplastic in a scalable, economically viable way. Tim Ronan, VP of marketing and PR at PWC, explains that the company needed to be seen as “trustworthy regarding this new plastic.”

After researching Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability segmentation models and “green” data, PN suggested a focus on moms who are early adopters and influencers.

Pia Garcia, EVP of consumer industries at PN, says buy-in from mom influencers would help messaging reach the broader audience of mainstream moms. “A grassroots focus on [bloggers] and viral marketing enabled consumers to discover [the product] on their own terms,” she adds.

PN also formed a consortium of recycling and waste management companies and groups, academics, and retailers to finding viable solutions for recycling bioplastic.

PN targeted more than 140 influential CSR, green, and mommy bloggers. Garcia says each blogger got a “customized approach” to start a conversation about issues important to them and their readers.

PWC sponsored the July 2008 BlogHer conference in San Francisco, where executives met bloggers in person. PWC executives also participated in podcasts with environmental and parenting bloggers.

The team created a three-part educational webisode on bioplastics and posted it on YouTube, Google, and Yahoo, and sent it directly to bloggers. It also created an extensive FAQ page on and conducted industry outreach at trade shows and via one-on-one meetings and phone calls.

Consortium participants helped clarify recycling misinformation at industry meetings, on blogs, and in media interviews.

Additionally, the team targeted national, regional, and local print and broadcast outlets that reach environmental thought leaders, the business community, and consumers.

The webisode has been viewed more than 12,000 times on YouTube and more than 85 bloggers requested product samples between April and December of 2008. Garcia says there were no negative stories.

Ronan notes interest generated by the campaign led to national distribution with Kroger and opened new sales channels (food service and convenience stores). Neither result was planned, but PWC welcomed both. He also credits PN for assembling the consortium, which he says “continues to build positive momentum.”

PWC only contracted PN for the launch. Ronan and his in-house team are continuing educational outreach efforts on all fronts. Currently, Ronan is “extremely busy” on the conference circuit for both packaging and plastic recycling.

PRWeek's View
It's an interesting challenge to face recycling concerns with a product that's packaged in eco-friendly bioplastic.

Recognizing the value of education and being willing to address both consumers and industry people directly was smart. This effort could easily have tanked if the company wasn't sincere, committed, and willing to demonstrate that first hand. PWC and PN's multifaceted approach to this campaign, including reaching the coveted mom audience, was a wise move that will help the brand continue to prosper in the future.

PR team: Primo Water Corp. (Winston Salem, NC) and Porter Novelli (New York)

Campaign: Primo Water National Launch

Duration: April 2008-ongoing

Budget: $500,000-$900,000

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