Peanut butter a big hit in 'Shark Tank'

Wild Squirrel Nut Butter was founded in January 2011, shortly after University of Oregon students Erika Welsh and Keeley Tillotson made the first batch of homemade peanut butter in their apartment.

Client
Wild Squirrel Nut Butter (Portland, OR)
Agency
Radiance Communications (Portland, OR)
Campaign
Nut Butter Revolution
Duration
May - July 2012
Budget
$9,000

Wild Squirrel Nut Butter was founded in January 2011, shortly after University of Oregon students Erika Welsh and Keeley Tillotson made the first batch of homemade peanut butter in their apartment.

Welsh and Tillotson hired Radiance Communications to help promote a May 11 appearance on ABC's entrepreneurial-focused reality show Shark Tank, drive consumer demand, and broaden distribution.

“[We're] novices when it comes to business and PR,” Welsh says. “Eight million people were going to watch Shark Tank, so it was important to hire a PR agency…to help us leverage our appearance and to professionally introduce our brand and product to a national audience.” 

Strategy
“The Shark Tank appearance afforded a great national opportunity, and we looked to get as much coverage as possible using it as the news hook,” explains agency principal Sunshine Morrison. “Media coverage is a nice tool to show distributors, and we wanted to expand store sales beyond Oregon.”

Social media outreach, website www.WildSquirrelNutButter.com and a viewing party also drove awareness.

Tactics
Custom pitches and product samples were sent to national broadcast and print media outlets covering health, fitness, parenting, business, and teen topics. Morrison also engaged reporters on Twitter and used a “peanut butter rap” video previously created by Welsh and Tillotson to pique reporters' interest.

Shark Tank appearance announcements were posted to Wild Squirrel Nut Butter's Facebook and Twitter pages. A Shark Tank discount code was also promoted on the social media pages and the website.

Morrison reached out to The National Peanut Board, which included product samples in its outreach to nutritionists and mom bloggers and posted information about Wild Squirrel Nut Butter on its website.

Welsh and Tillotson wrote a blog post about their Shark Tank experience and updated company information. 

A Shark Tank viewing party was held May 11 at the University of Oregon's Portland campus for customers, bankers, friends, family, and local media.

Results
Welsh reports average online order amounts have increased from $25 prior to the campaign to about $50, and daily order volume is up from 10 to 50. 

The company landed a distribution deal in June that put product in 170 stores along the West Coast, up from 40 stores in Oregon.

More than 30 stories (nearly 2 million impressions) ran in outlets including USA Today and Shape

Welsh notes media coverage led to an Amazon.com deal.

Facebook followers are up from 1,460 prior to the campaign to more than 3,600 currently. Twitter followers jumped from 430 to nearly 1,000.

Future
Welsh hopes to work with the agency again, perhaps next year. The company is currently focused on expanding national distribution.

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