Allied Bakeries has become the latest entrant to the functional
foods market with the launch of Burgen Bread, a soya and linseed loaf.
Functional foods contain biologically active elements which claim to
deliver benefits beyond basic nutrition. Burgen Bread claims to provide
a good source of plant oestrogens which research suggests can alleviate
some symptoms of the menopause.
Requiring a specialist technical approach, Allied Bakeries appointed
Shandwick’s healthcare division to manage the UK launch.
To communicate the benefits of plant oestrogens. And to promote Burgen
bread as a natural means of incorporating plant oestrogens into everyday
Allied Bakeries briefed Shandwick to launch the product using a health
platform. A key challenge was to communicate complex research about the
benefits of plant oestrogens without making any health claims for the
bread itself. The agency decided on an educational campaign informing
consumers about plant oestrogens, followed by a brand campaign promoting
Dr Ed Filmore, research director for Allied Bakeries and Maryon Stewart,
a nutritionist and director of the Women’s Nutritional Advisory Service,
were chosen as spokespeople for the educational campaign. To avoid
breaching government guidelines, all promotional literature was cleared
through Trading Standards.
On 15 September, Burgen Bread was launched to the media. Filmore and
Stewart took part in 50 press and broadcast interviews to explain the
benefits of plant oestrogens.
A telephone helpline featuring advice from a state registered dietician
provided the focus for the brand campaign. Author Jilly Cooper was
chosen to launch the helpline at a photocall on 3 November. According to
Shandwick Healthcare director Averill Gordon, Cooper was the ideal
choice because of her support for natural products.
To support the campaign, Shandwick prepared a booklet giving advice on a
natural approach to the menopause, which is being promoted through
reader offers in women’s magazines. Brand messages are being further
reinforced through a press advertising campaign.
To date, the campaign has generated coverage in seven national and 24
regional titles. Broadcast coverage includes mentions on 14 TV and 47
radio programmes. Medical, marketing, consumer and grocery trade titles
have also covered the story. At the time of writing there have been
2,500 calls to the telephone helpline.
Coverage indicates that the jury is still out on the potential health
risks of plant oestrogens. However the campaign can be credited with
raising awareness of the issues without damaging the product. According
to the Times medical columnist Dr Thomas Stuttaford: ’In so far as
they’ve got the bread talked about, they’ve done brilliantly. It’s an
interesting concept. But we are talking about a hormone which has a down
side as well as an up side.’
Allied Bakeries marketing director Frances Brindle seems surprised by
the reaction to the bread. ’We thought it was an interesting story - I
don’t think we could have anticipated how much coverage we got. It’s
early days in terms of sales but it looks encouraging - our customers
are reporting huge interest in the product.’
Client: Allied Bakeries
PR Team: Shandwick Communications
Campaign: Launch of Burgen Bread
Timescale: June - November 1997