CAMPAIGN: Cheese webcam grabs a slice of the market

The British may eat 36,000 tonnes of cheddar each year, but they tend to buy by price rather than provenance.

On the box: the life of a Cheddar cheese
On the box: the life of a Cheddar cheese

Campaign: Cheddarvision.tv
Client: West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers
PR Team: Bray Leino
Timescale: Ongoing from December 2006
Budget: £40,000

West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers – a co-operative of 14 cheesemakers – charged Bristol-based Bray Leino with conveying the authentic qualities of its product.

Objectives
To raise awareness of the time, effort and skills used to make the product. To drive media and consumers to the co-operative’s website. To grab a larger slice of the Cheddar market.

Strategy and plan
To illustrate that although making premium Cheddar is a slow, staid and traditional process, today’s producers are anything but, Bray Leino came up with the idea of cheddarvision.tv.

It featured a webcam dedicated to the life of a cheese – 24 hours a day, ­seven days a week – as it matured on a shelf. It was linked to the West Country Farmhouse Cheddar site.

A teaser launch release was sent to consumer food and trade titles, and Bray Leino plugged key events, including the Cheddar’s first grading in March. For added flavour, the PR team created a page for the cheese on myspace.com and posted a 90-second time-lapse Cheddarvision ‘the movie’ on YouTube.

Measurement and evaluation
Outlets from the Daily Star and the Daily Express to The Times, The Guardian and Radio 2 covered the launch, and Reuters took the story global.

To celebrate its first grading, the cheddar featured in The Times three times in one week, The Guardian twice, the Daily Mail, The Independent and the Daily Record in Scotland. The event also featured on the Today programme, Wake up with Wogan, Five Live, Sky News, BBC News 24, GMTV and 25 regional radio stations.

Cheddarvison ‘the movie’ was shown on This Morning and the story reached The New York Times, ABC News and ZDF, the German public broadcaster.

Results
There was a 25 per cent increase in sales to the end of March compared with a similar period last year.

To date the website has been visited more than a million times with 67,500 click-throughs to the co-operative’s site. The cheese has notched up several hundred friends on myspace, and the movie has scored more than 115,000 views on YouTube.

Further activity is planned for Halloween, Christmas and the second and third gradings later this year. Finally, there will be birthday celebrations after which the fully matured Cheddar will be auctioned for charity on eBay.

Daily Mail feature writer Harry Mount said that the co-operative was open to being interviewed and didn’t mind him lampooning what it was up to. ‘The story was immediately appealing: the thought of a million or so people watching something so incredibly dull was amusing.’

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