Strongbow brings floating apple orchard to the Big Apple

The effort is part of Strongbow's Nature Remix campaign, which focuses on bringing nature to urbanites.

Company: Strongbow Hard Apple Ciders
Campaign: U.S. launch of the brand’s Nature Remix campaign
Agency mix: Current Marketing (PR agency), Cloudfactory (advertising agency)
Duration: April - May 2017 (ad content will continue to run throughout the year)

Heineken USA’s Strongbow Hard Apple Ciders graced New Yorkers with a rare bit of nature by transforming a barren barge into a floating apple orchard and perennial garden on the waters of the Hudson River.

The effort, done in partnership with Swale, New York’s first "floating food forest," is part of Strongbow’s Nature Remix campaign, which focuses on bringing nature to urbanites.

Strongbow, along with PR agency partner, Current Marketing, began planning for the Nature Remix campaign in late summer 2016.

Last year, Strongbow launched the Nature Remix platform with seven different campaigns in seven major cities around the world: Mexico City, Mexico; Toronto, Canada; Bucharest, Romania; Lisbon, Portugal; Prague, Czech Republic; Bratislava, Slovakia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

This year, the brand wanted to find an innovative way to bring the campaign to a North American audience.

The team chose to focus on Swale, a floating food forest founded by artist Mary Mattingly, who wanted to take advantage of Manhattan waterways and make fresh, edible perennial plants available to all New Yorkers. The brand saw Mattingly as an ideal person to partner with on creative content.

The campaign team wanted to execute a media outreach strategy that would raise awareness of the partnership with Swale and generate coverage, as well as host a media event which would help officially launch the campaign. In addition, Strongbow wanted to use the media event to launch a national seed initiative.

"For coverage, our goal was to target outlets beyond the traditional food and beverage writers that are already familiar with Strongbow," said Eric Markus, brand director, Strongbow. "The team wanted to reach a wide variety of print and online outlets spanning epicurean, local and national news, travel, trade, and lifestyle bloggers, highlighting the different elements of the partnership."

On April 7, Heineken USA issued press release teasing that the campaign and partnership with Swale were on the horizon. Throughout the month, the brand worked to add garden items and remodel the barge to feature Strongbow branding.

On May 2, the team released a campaign video on the brand's YouTube channel starring Mattingly. The video catalogs the transformation of the Swale barge through the Strongbow partnership.

Strongbow issued a press release announcing the campaign on the morning of May 3, along with several photos released on the AP newswire. Later that evening, the brand held a media cocktail event in New York City on the Swale barge at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Journalists who attended were encouraged to explore and sample any of the 200 assorted perennial edible plant varieties on board. As part of the event, New York chef Sam Talbot, who is also a former Top Chef contestant, was on hand to prepare food.

"Editors that were not able to attend the event were mailed wooden bottle carriers with all varieties of Strongbow product, upcycled glass Strongbow bottles planted with herbs, a seed coaster, that can be planted and grown into herbs, and a branded bamboo USB with press materials," added Markus.

The event also kicked off Strongbow’s national seed initiative, through which the brand is offering people across the country over 100,000 sustainable seed coasters containing basil and sage herb seeds.

The campaign was amplified across digital channels with paid content on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as custom content on Tastemade and Thrillist.

Strongbow branding will remain on the barge as it tours around New York City this summer, though the brand is no longer actively adding garden items to the barge. Ad content featuring the campaign will run throughout the year.

Campaign efforts garnered nearly 300 feature placements. Online pieces alone generated upwards of 242 million media impressions.

Some outlets covering the campaign included: New York Post, Time Out New York, Condé Nast Traveler, Bloomberg, Food & Wine, Gothamist, HuffPost, Red Tricycle, Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Bar Business, and Grocery Headquarters.

Food Network Live was on hand at the media launch event and Snapchatted the experience to followers on a branded channel.

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