Campaign: Stilton 'perfume' drives global sales of cheese

In 2006, the Stilton Cheese Makers Association (SCMA) asked its retained PR agency, Brazen, to promote the product outside the festive season.

Campaign Stick on the Stilton!
Client Stilton Cheese Makers Association
PR team Brazen
Timescale April-May 2006
Budget £15,000

Traditionally associated with Christmas, Stilton cheese tends to lose out sales-wise to rival Continental brands such as Roquefort and Danish Blue during the rest of the year.

To quash some people’s ‘fear’ of Stilton and encourage them to use the cheese in everyday meals. To drive traffic to the official website, and boost trade interest, especially from overseas.

Strategy and Plan
Research among visitors to the Stilton website revealed that the most recognisable elements of the cheese are its smell and strong taste. Brazen wanted to encourage consumers to trial Stilton by ‘scattering it on a pizza, slicing it onto a burger or slipping it into a sandwich’. It devised a campaign strapline, ‘Stick on the Stilton!’.

Having created a campaign logo (below), the PR team commissioned Manchester-based perfumer ID Aromatics to create a wearable ‘Eau de Stilton’ essential oil blend that emulated the earthy and fruity aroma of the cheese. As Stilton is only produced by seven dairies in the Midlands, Brazen also sought to inject some local glamour by persuading Brummie-born TV presenter Cat Deeley to be the face of the new perfume.

An Eau de Stilton press release announcing Deeley’s involvement was issued to media contacts, and was accompanied by branded perfume samples. Meanwhile, radio and TV shows, such as ITV’s Loose Women, were sent Stilton hampers, containing the cheese and its essence.

This activity was backed up with press releases detailing recipe ideas, fliers, beer mats and photoshoots. In addition, members of the SCMA were briefed to handle media enquiries directly.

Measurement and Evaluation
The campaign generated 16 national and 41 regional newspaper articles, six TV mentions, 38 radio plugs and seven trade press articles. More than 80 per cent of media coverage featured the website, with highlights including a smell test of Eau de Stilton on This Morning, a full-page news story in the Daily Star, and a BBC News 24 live broadcast from a Stilton dairy.

More than 100 overseas media, from Swedish Elle to Australia’s ABC Television, requested information about the perfume and samples.

Hits to the website more than doubled from 156,016 in April 2006 to 343,763 in the following month. Sales of Stilton also increased in May, by 11.6 per cent year-on-year. This represented an additional 37 tonnes of product sold, which SCMA secretary Nigel White directly attributes to PR.

Twelve overseas food stores contacted Brazen and are now working with the SCMA to stock the cheese in Australia, Austria, Spain and the US.

The Independent assistant editor John Walsh, who wrote about Eau de Stilton in his BTW column, says: ‘It was a clever, amusing and attention- grabbing ploy for a small operation, which left journalists unsure about whether it was being serious or not.’

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