By sponsoring a NASCAR Nationwide Series car through a partnership with Roush Fenway Racing, Cargill Ground Beef hoped to drive awareness of Cargill Ground Beef (through its Our Certified Ground Beef brand) among NASCAR fans. To leverage this effort and drive engagement, Associated recommended the use of social media centered on the #6 car and its driver, Trevor Bayne, to develop a dialogue with racing fans and drive traffic to the newly launched cargillgroundbeef.com.
With a target audience of primary grocery shoppers, both male and female, ages 25-54, the NASCAR demographic was a perfect fit for Cargill Ground Beef. In addition, because of the high level of social media engagement inherent in NASCAR racing in general, Associated felt it could effectively leverage the sponsorship to help drive awareness and utilization of Cargill ground beef, retail customers and cargillgroundbeef.com — a site providing comprehensive information, recipes and insights into all things ground beef.
To drive engagement, Associated would leverage Trevor Bayne and his Roush Fenway team members to give NASCAR fans an inside track on activities within the Nationwide Series while providing helpful ground beef cooking tips and other content. A digital “Tailgating with Trevor” sweepstakes, syndicated through social media and entered through the cargillgroundbeef.com portal, offered a personal meeting with Trevor Bayne and the Roush Fenway team, while ongoing posts reflected highlights of the season’s races. Custom content including exclusive video interviews with Trevor Bayne as well as videos of Trevor using, recommending and talking about Cargill Ground Beef would increase engagement, while geo-targeting was used to tie the initiative to specific regional retail customers such as Safeway, Publix, Walmart and Winn-Dixie. To measure the initiative, ongoing monitoring tracked the social media following, engagement and traffic to cargillgroundbeef.com to ensure goals were achieved throughout the approximately 10-month NASCAR season.
A robust schedule of posts, including exclusive video content, engaged NASCAR fans, who responded with thousands of comments on posted materials. Ultimately, the initiative resulted in:
As a control brand for American Italian Pasta Company (AIPC), Heartland Pasta offers a variety of pastas, with primary distribution through Walmart stores nationwide. In support of Heartland′s mission to support healthy lifestyles, a Gluten Free Pasta line was introduced in August 2010. With this launch, AIPC tasked Associated with engaging the Gluten Free community to encourage trial and establish Heartland Gluten Free Pasta as an ideal part of a gluten free diet. In doing so, they hoped to establish an audience that would support and syndicate the Heartland brand through continued growth of its product lineup, which included the addition of Hidden Vegetable Pastas in May 2012.
Because of the traditionally low-profile nature of the Heartland brand and the absence of mass marketing support, Associated realized quickly that building a community around the brand would require ongoing engagement and interaction. Harnessing the power of social media would allow Heartland to focus on the gluten free lifestyle and establish a dialogue with the gluten free community and build consumer awareness and trust while reinforcing Heartland′s expertise and commitment to its gluten free audience. In addition, social media provided highly targeted communications at a minimal cost, allowing ongoing support of the program rather than sporadic promotional support.
Because Facebook offered the most flexible platform for creating ongoing conversations with our target audience, Associated focused its efforts there, creating content that would provide insights and value for the gluten free community. Launched in October 2011, the Facebook page featured a wide range of resources, product information and links to other valuable information important to our audience. A Facebook coupon program was soon added to drive product trial and Facebook “likes,” and targeted Facebook ads were created to help drive traffic to the Heartland pages. Other resources supporting the gluten free community were also added, including a guide to help users find alternatives to common recipe ingredients containing gluten.
With the launch of Heartland Hidden Vegetable Pasta in May 2012, the focus of the growing Facebook community shifted slightly to accommodate an effort to reach parents of “fussy” eaters about the nutritional benefits, versatility and great flavor of Heartland′s vegetable-based pastas. A fun, interactive application allowed users to disguise a carrot in a variety of costume combinations, then share their creations on Facebook to further syndicate the Hidden Vegetable message.
With no mention of the Facebook page on product packaging, and a lack of in-store merchandising support, Associated relied solely on organic growth and networking within Facebook to grow its gluten free/healthy living communities. Growth was slow, but steady, quickly growing to more than 100 new “likes” each month. Active conversations with fans delivered glowing product reviews on Heartland′s wall, while the introduction of new content and features consistently drove spikes in “likes.” In addition:
As a manufacturer of quality baling twines and netting for the agriculture industry, Fabpro Oriented Polymers faced several obstacles in differentiating its products from competitors. Considered a commodity item by most end users, purchase decisions were commonly made based solely on two factors: availability through their local dealer and price. Given that lower-priced import twines were quickly becoming a threat, Fabpro charged Associated with helping them reinforce their product benefits and primary points of differentiation among end users.
In analyzing the competitive landscape, Associated discovered two critical factors impacting the company′s marketing communications. First, Fabpro′s communications mirrored the style of content utilized by its domestic competitors, reinforcing the sense product parity. In addition, while communicating product quality, the communications did little to directly address the growing threat of lower-quality import twines, which were attractive primarily because of their lower price point.
While American farmers typically prefer domestic suppliers, research showed that, because they viewed twine as a commodity product, they were not giving a great deal of thought to the brand they purchased. By positioning Fabpro products as dependable, “partners” in their operations and emphasizing its domestic origins, Associated sought to increase overall awareness and preference for the brand. The resulting print and digital campaign, accompanied by dealer POS materials, was steeped in Americana, positioning the brand as a mirror image of the American farmer′s hard-working persona. To differentiate the brand visually, colorful illustrations were commissioned, while strong, plain-spoken headlines called out the brand′s American heritage. A stylized “Made in the U.S.A.” mark was also created to drive home the domestic origins of the twine.
With the colorful new campaign virtually leaping from the pages of trade publications and industry websites, readership studies noted a double-digit increase in brand awareness over the first six months in market. Point-of-sale materials provided a consistent brand image that farmers could look for at their local dealers — and question if they didn′t find it there. In fact, Fabpro noted an increase in dealer inquiries over this same period as the brand began recovering its share of the twine market.
To support one of its primary target audiences, The Grasshopper Company has long positioned itself as a friend and champion to landscape contractors, offering products and resources designed to help them succeed in a highly competitive industry. As a younger generation of contractors began emerging in the industry, Grasshopper was looking for a way to build positive awareness with this new generation of customers.
As the demographic makeup of the landscape contractor market began to give way to younger, more tech-savvy professionals, research revealed that media consumption patterns were shifting accordingly. Younger contractors relied heavily on digital media as a primary method of researching new equipment, techniques and business practices.
To communicate with younger landscape contractors and provide a more credible and objective source of information, Associated proposed a digital magazine that would provide valuable objective information designed to help contractors build their businesses. While sponsored by Grasshopper, the magazine would remain unbranded to reinforce the publication′s image as an unbiased resource. The Grasshopper brand, however, received prominent placement as the publication′s exclusive advertiser.
Designed specifically for iPad and Android-based tablets, the magazine, called MOWmentum, features dynamic content on a wide range of topics ranging from seasonal landscape management tips and potential service offering expansions to management software reviews and successful contractor profiles. This content, which includes video, animation and a host of interactive features designed to engage and inform MOWmentum subscribers, is designed to help enhance each reader′s business while creating positive awareness for the Grasshopper brand. The magazine is available at the app stores for both iPad and Android platforms.
Launched in July 2012, MOWmentum quickly became a go-to resource for contractors, with downloaded apps launched 3,267 times to date by nearly 600 different landscape professionals. Published quarterly, the digital publication continues to collect new users with each new issue. A web-enabled version of MOWmentum has generated 829 views, enabling those without tablet access to benefit from content. Utilization of MOWmentum is projected to keep pace as tablet penetration grows within this market segment, educating and informing a new generation of landscape contractors and building positive awareness for the Grasshopper brand.
In supporting its diverse line of herbicides, insecticides, plant growth regulators and other products for the turf and ornamental management industry, Kansas City-based PBI–Gordon Corporation had long invested a significant portion of its marketing budget in paid media placement. Using in-house resources, however, PBI–Gordon had no mechanism for measuring results, making it difficult to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of its annual media buy. When Associated offered to evaluate the company′s media plan to identify inefficiencies and recommend enhancements, the client readily agreed.
An in-depth media audit by Associated revealed that PBI–Gordon′s traditional media strategy was over-saturating the market. Because the circulation of many of its selected media vehicles tended to overlap, frequency was extremely high, causing the audience to tune out messaging and the plan to deliver diminishing returns.
To maximize PBI–Gordon′s media plan, Associated recommended reducing the overall number of placements, as well as the number of selected media partners in each market channel. In addition, Associated would leverage its own significant relationships with lawn and landscape media publishers to negotiate significant savings and secure value-added placements and opportunities when purchasing media on an annual basis, allowing PBI–Gordon to realize a major reduction in its media spending.
By adjusting PBI–Gordon′s media buy, Associated was able to eliminate the diminishing returns and reduce PBI–Gordon′s media spend by a whopping 40 percent. In addition:
In a competitive market, Wesley Medical Center was disappointed by the results of an annual third-party survey in which consumers ranked the level of personal, compassionate care provided by its staff as significantly lower than competitors. Despite ongoing efforts to enhance the patient experience, Wesley staff members were seen as competent and professional, but lacking the personal touch so critical to a patient′s care. Wesley tasked Associated with helping to change this perception, which in most cases was based more on historical experience than recent interaction with the hospital.
While Wesley′s long-time positioning statement, “Intensive Caring,” still resonated well with consumers, it needed to be proven in a way that would motivate consumers who had not utilized Wesley services recently to give the hospital another try.
To convince consumers that Wesley staff remains dedicated to delivering personal, compassionate care to every patient, “Intensive Caring” had to be brought to life in a real and impactful way. Selecting the Wesley Children′s Center and the Wesley BirthCare Center as two departments in which this level of care was most visible, Associated chose to highlight patient-staff relationships in those areas. The new campaign, built around the “Intensive Caring” theme, would portray hospital staff almost as extensions of the patient′s actual family, demonstrating the personal involvement each staff member has with the patients he or she serves. Campaign concepts were tested using consumer focus groups, with feedback integrated into the creative to maximize results. Effectiveness would be measured through the following year′s consumer survey results.
The campaign, which included print, outdoor, TV and radio, was released in three flights, with each flight comprising a six-week period. Even during the first flight, Wesley reported an increase in inquiries about its BirthCare Center services, as well as positive feedback and additional efforts to enhance patient care from its employees. Following the next year′s third-party consumer survey, Wesley showed significant improvement in its personal care, nursing care and overall patient experience scores.
As the region′s leading provider of digital TV, phone and high-speed Internet, Cox Communications delivers services to areas surrounding campuses for Wichita State University, Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, the University of Arkansas and several other colleges and universities. Appealing to college students poses a major challenge each year, as their limited budgets and the many offers they receive from national competitors make acquiring them difficult. Cox realizes that it has only a few weeks late each summer, as students are returning to campus and settling in for another academic year, to attract these customers for the next eight months.
Associated, having supported Cox Back-to-School campaigns for several consecutive years, has helped Cox understand that college students do not respond well to corporate marketing, and that messaging and strategies must be customized — not only to their age and preferences, but, in some cases, to their collegiate environment itself.
To help Cox acquire college customers, Associated developed an integrated “grassroots” strategy that was designed to inundate college students with campaign materials on and around campus. On-campus “crews” represented Cox and interacted with students, providing information and materials. Promotional efforts included online, bus, bar and bathroom advertising, as well as take-away promotional materials designed specifically for students. Additionally, mascot-like characters named Dylan Digital and Isabel Internet dialogued with students in person and through Facebook, talking about Cox services, their benefits, their advantageous pricing and their commitment to the colleges and college communities served.
All tactics and efforts drove students to a special campaign website, CoxEdu.com, where customized, market-specific offers and information were available. The site also served as a clearinghouse for a bonus offer — students could receive a $100 gift card for activating services — that encouraged them to sign up for services through the site or by calling Cox customer support
Cox “street teams” and characters at four targeted campuses generated over 100,000 target audience impressions and 30,000 distinct touches with the custom website and customized call center numbers. Overall, response to the effort was a great improvement over the previous year. Facebook ad click-throughs tripled to 4,624 and on-campus surveying netted 1,468 qualified leads for Cox follow-up.
As part of our annual planning process for The Grasshopper Company, a manufacturer of zero-radius mowing equipment serving the commercial contractor, government and consumer/farm segments, Associated immersed itself in the client′s competitive landscape. In doing so, we found that — across the industry — manufacturers were focused on communicating similar features and functional benefits, contributing to a sense of “sameness” and parity that left little room for brand differentiation. In this environment, Grasshopper tasked us with developing an overarching strategy that would successfully support the brand′s premium position and tell its story in a unique and impactful way.
Ongoing research into the key factors influencing key decision makers in each of our target markets revealed quickly that, instead of focusing on the features and benefits of Grasshopper mowers, initial communications would only break through if we addressed the more intangible factors that impacted purchasing decisions — not by “selling metal,” but by “selling the experience.” In other words, the emotional benefits that a customer receives by owning and operating a Grasshopper mower.
Creating personal stories loosely based on actual user comments, we tailored messaging to each of our target audiences, providing a more personal, “peer-to-peer” approach and better communicating the emotional benefits identified for each of our target audiences. Imagery was used to reinforce the story itself, relegating actual product photography to a more supporting role — an act of confidence that reflected Grasshopper′s premium position and portrayed the company as an industry leader.
This approach stretched across all media executions that might introduce potential buyers to the Grasshopper brand. Grasshopper′s website and collateral materials, which represent the research and information-gathering step in the purchase process, remained product focused, yet were also softened and updated to reflect the shift in positioning.
While Grasshopper′s new approach is not focused on features, it has delivered significant benefits and results — both to potential buyers and to our client. Obviously, the approach is resonating with target audiences, as Grasshopper continues to maintain and grow its share of what is currently a relatively flat market. Grasshopper has also received an overwhelmingly positive response from sales staff, media partners, dealers and customers — as well as an unexpected bonus: current Grasshopper customers seem to be more eager to tell their own stories, providing ample storytelling material as the campaign progresses.
In an effort to increase utilization of its Texas plants and gain additional product margin, Cargill tasked Associated with the planning, development and launch of a new branded beef program.
Primary research, utilizing online surveys and targeting primary grocery shoppers within the state of Texas, identified that 88 percent of Texas residents were likely or very likely to purchase beef labeled as Texas-raised or processed over a comparable product of unspecified origin. In other words, Texans love Texas, Texans love beef, and they want to purchase Texas beef because it supports their local communities.
Working closely with global market research firm Mintel, Associated conducted an opportunity assessment that included store audits of major Texas retailers, interviews with meat buyers and assessments of meat cases throughout the state. Findings showed that while a majority of retail beef available was sourced from Texas, no products were currently being marketed under a Texas beef brand.
Having identified a gap between consumer needs and market offerings, Associated proceeded to develop a Texas-branded beef program, employing both qualitative (focus groups) and quantitative (online surveys) research to guide the messaging and development process. While a variety of Texas-centric brand names were developed and tested, results indicated that Texas consumers preferred a simple approach — and the Genuine Texas Beef brand was born.
The same research methodologies were also employed to test logo and creative concepts, ensuring that the brand would resonate with Texas shoppers. Based on these results, the team then brought the brand to life with the development of sales, launch and ongoing marketing and promotional materials.
Within six months of the brand′s completion, Associated helped Cargill accomplish its primary objective of gaining retail distribution via the acquisition of its first Genuine Texas Beef retail customer — a customer which had previously purchased its beef from one of Cargill′s competitors. In the first year, the brand represented nearly 80 percent of the retailer′s meat case, resulting in the sale of more than 17 million pounds of beef at higher margins for both Cargill and the retailer. Now in its second year, Cargill plans to expand retail distribution within the foodservice channel, and has enlisted Associated′s support in achieving this objective.
Working with valued Hawaiian retail partner, Times Supermarkets, Sterling Silver Premium Meats wanted to increase same-store sales of its products and reposition Sterling Silver as an affordable, premium beef and pork brand for the islands during an economically challenging time.
During the recession, home cooking, bargain hunting and coupon clipping becoming hot trends among Hawaiian consumers. In addition, shoppers in Hawaii, as elsewhere, are often confused and unsure at the meat case, leading to a stressful experience and a reluctance to experiment with new cuts.
Leveraging existing relationships, Associated connected with two local renowned chefs who use and advocate for Sterling Silver meats. Both chefs agreed to lead a total of eight in-store product demonstrations and sampling events to help increase consumer familiarity with and confidence in Sterling Silver products. Messaging built around the theme “Culinary Quality. Affordable Price.” kept quality and cost-efficiency top-of-mind with consumers, while other promotional drivers, including a recipe contest with significant tiered prizes and $100 gift card giveaways during store events kept consumers engaged, educated and enticed. Targeted mass media including print, radio, TV, online, media relations and social media integration relayed key messages, while in-store recipe pads, posters, coupons and other point-of-sale materials increased awareness of the promotion and directed sales to the meat case.
Compared to the same period the prior year, Times experienced a 7.6 percent increase in same-store sales for beef and pork, outperforming other Hawaiian retailers and the U.S. market overall by 12.3 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively. In addition, with 3,841 coupons redeemed, the overall coupon redemption rate was 14.1 percent, more than twice the national average.
The promotion also significantly impacted Times′ social media, increasing Facebook post views by 165% compared to the previous two months and generating 35 submissions for the recipe contest.
Ongoing media outreach also earned the promotion a 3-minute story on “Hawaii News Now”, including a special appearance by Chef Glenn Uyeda, which reached 736,440 households to maximize awareness and exposure for both Times Supermarkets and the Sterling Silver brand.
When Cargill′s meat business chose downtown Wichita as the location for its state-of-the-art $15 million Cargill Innovation Center, it was critical to communicate the details, vision and importance of the center to diverse audiences, including employees, the business community, local politicians and media, trade media and, ultimately, Cargill customers.
Because Cargill′s research and development efforts over the years have yielded numerous innovations that have not only benefitted Cargill customers, but also the industry at large, construction of the Cargill Innovation Center represented a key expansion of the company′s product and process development capabilities.
Groundbreaking (Summer 2010) — Rather than a typical shovel line to break ground, Associated worked with Cargill to create a construction kickoff worthy of a global meat industry leader, orchestrating a grill lighting ceremony and luncheon. Associated provided project management and logistics organization to help the large event come together, and the agency developed press materials and provided media relations to ensure broad news coverage in the region and with trade media.
Grand Opening (Summer 2011) — Associated provided a communications campaign for the event using the theme “What′s next,” worded not as a question but as a confident, forward-looking statement of Cargill′s ongoing commitment to research, development and customer success. Elements included a press kit and media preview tour, press conference, brochure, room signage, employee emails, digital countdown board for employees, sales team presentation and webinars, as well as a View-Master direct mailer to educate customers and a custom chef coat mailer to confirm customer meetings.
The grill lighting ceremony event was wildly successful with more than 300 guests and dignitaries attending and extremely positive media coverage appearing in the Wichita Eagle, Wichita Business Journal, on local CBS, ABC, NBC and FOX affiliates and two local news radio stations as well as in meat and grocery trade press.
For the grand opening, a variety of elements kept employees well-informed and drove several hundred to sneak-peek events. Customers were made aware of the center′s benefits, and several innovation sessions were scheduled. Extensive media coverage was secured with all key local print and broadcast outlets, as well as target trade media. Associated′s creative theme and materials were widely praised by Cargill leaders. Scott Eilert, Cargill vice president in charge of the Innovation Center, specifically cited Associated during the event as an important business partner that was essential to helping Cargill tell the center′s story.
Weathering rising corn costs and a resulting slowdown in the construction of new ethanol plants, ICM, Inc., a designer and builder of ethanol plants, watched with interest as debate continued over the effects of diverting corn out of food production in favor of ethanol production. Having developed a new process and supporting technology that would boost ethanol production while creating food by-products fit for human consumption, ICM wanted to introduce this plant upgrade at a customer meeting during an industry trade show and create positive buzz about the important, yet costly (approx. $200 million), upgrade. ICM′s goal was to schedule 15 one-on-one meetings with plant owners, operators and/or investors.
With only a 45-day window from initial client meeting to the trade show opening, Associated had to react quickly and boldly to pique customer interest and encourage response.
To create intrigue, anticipation and excitement about the pre-show customer meeting, a direct mail campaign was developed to communicate ICM′s intention to end the food versus fuel debate once and for all and make the pre-show meeting a “can′t miss” event. Full-size posters trumpeting “The End is Near” and promising a new era in ethanol production delivered maximum impact as the first in a series of mailings, while subsequent postcards reinforced the call to action and created a sense of urgency. Once an individual had registered for the event, future teaser mailings were suspended, replaced by a confirmation postcard identifying the guest as “One of the Chosen” who would witness this groundbreaking announcement.
A custom microsite was developed as a mechanism for event registration and for scheduling the critical one-on-one meetings desired by the client. Telemarketing efforts added a personal touch, prompting additional conversation and response. In addition, guests were offered free limousine service from the airport to their hotel courtesy of ICM — a service managed by Associated that customers could sign up for during the online registration process.
For the show itself, custom booth materials and displays were also developed to support the theme and generate maximum interest among target customers. Product literature outlining each of the new processes and related technologies was created and was inserted into custom leather binders for distribution during the pre-show announcement meeting.
As a result of the campaign, the initial pre-show meeting was such a success that ICM was forced to add a second session to meet customer demand. Associated exceeded the original goal of 15 one-on-one sessions, with a total of 20 scheduled. Ultimately, seven customers signed Letters of Interest to cement their intention of proceeding with the upgrades, representing up to $1.4 billion in potential sales.
Each holiday season (Thanksgiving through Christmas), Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms turkey brands partner with retailers/grocers and nonprofit groups to feed the hungry in 25 markets across America, donating and distributing thousands of pounds of turkey meat to individuals and families in need. The promotion, called More To Share, allows Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms — both regional providers of fresh and frozen whole bird turkey — to further their relationships with valued retail partners, showcasing the retailers and their community involvements rather than the turkey brands themselves.
Associated, which has coordinated the More To Share program since 2004, continues to provide greater return on investment for the turkey brands and retail partners each year. Most recently, Associated saw the opportunity to provide more templated materials that could be easily customized for each participating market and used to leverage both traditional and social media outreach efforts.
To help Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms turkey get better value from their investment, Associated dedicated a team of account service and public relations professionals to efficiently manage all aspects of the program. While methodology was consistent across all retailer partners, our manner of engagement with these partners was designed to feel very personal, from coordination of donation details between the turkey brands and retailers to assisting with the logistics of turkey donation to various nonprofit groups for events where they would be distributed to the community.
Associated wrote and produced public and media relations materials, coordinated delivery of support materials for turkey distribution events and monitored for media coverage (both traditional and digital/social) — all with the focus staying on the nonprofit groups and turkey retail partners. These efforts resulted in strengthened relationships between targeted retailers and turkey providers and greater awareness for the hunger and poverty relief efforts that local retailers and their nonprofit partners undertake that truly make a difference in the community.
The More To Share program garnered significant paid-media coverage and exposure for nonprofit groups and retail partners nationally. After activating More To Share social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), Associated again leveraged and expanded engagement between key charity and retail partners as well as local and trade media, food industry associations and other pertinent constituents, further enhancing the awareness and value of the program. The long-term value of these relationship enhancements are difficult to quantify, but direct feedback from the charity partners and retailers reflected significant positive goodwill generated by the program.
In the fall, when kids return to school and busy summertime schedules give way to a rhythm that includes more regular family meals, ground beef sales often decline with grilling frequency. Cargill, the nation′s largest provider of ground beef, supports its retail partners with in-store promotions each year that remind consumers of the versatility of ground beef as an ingredient in a variety of family-pleasing dishes, and asked Associated to find a solution that would encourage fall ground beef sales.
While past experience indicated cross-promotions were well received by retailers and consumers alike, an analysis of consumer buying trends revealed that, because of the recent economy, an amazing 66% of American consumers were buying private label products on a regular basis. As a result, Associated formulated a retailer-specific marketing cross promotion that supported each individual retailer′s private label products as an alternative to partnering with a national brand.
The “Souped-Up Suppers” promotion spotlighted private label canned soups as a cost-effective, convenient addition to hearty and delicious ground beef casserole dishes. Working directly with retailers and consumer preference data, three recipes were featured in promotional materials customized to support retailer marketing and business strategies for private label soups. Materials reflected store-specific private label brands and imagery for each participating retailer.
Retailers were provided with in-store, website and social media support materials that featured their soups, as well as prizes for consumer engagement, including digital coupons, grocery carts full of store-branded products and $500 gift cards for people who participated in the promotion′s sweepstakes drawing.
Industry trade publication coverage of Souped-Up Suppers provided 1.1 million impressions and was valued at over $100,000. Consumer engagement for the promotion included 20,324 sweepstakes entries – with all collected data shared with the corresponding retailer for each entrant. Additionally 27,457 coupons were downloaded with an 18.4% redemption rate. Most important, despite a 2% dip in national ground beef sales during the fall season, promotion partners saw an average rise of 6.4% in ground beef sales and a corresponding spike in private label soup sales. Cargill, for its part, saw a 25:1 return on its investment in the promotion.
Wesley Medical Center, a leader in Wichita for cardiac care and female health services, is a local presenting sponsor of the American Heart Association′s “Go Red” campaign. The hospital enlisted Associated to help differentiate the hospital from other “Go Red” partners, increase “Go Red For Women” event participation in early February (American Heart Month) and showcase Wesley′s female cardiac care expertise and the caring nature of its employees.
To maximize its partnership with the American Heart Association, Wesley needed to somehow make “Go Red” its own. By locally branding the campaign and outreach effort, Wesley could stand out from other partners, sponsors and opportunists and could showcase their involvement with “Go Red” in the context of its larger, year-round expertise in female cardiac care.
Associated formulated an integrated campaign for Wesley that incorporated signage, “red washing” (red signage, lighting and presence) at Wesley facilities, business partnerships, traditional media advertising, event presence, public relations support materials, social media, an event-specific website and a thematic video featuring Wesley employees to encourage Wichitans to “Turn Red” as a way of promoting women′s heart health.
Using a unique “Turn Red” phrase rather than the traditional “Go Red” differentiated Wesley′s efforts from other local sponsors and participants (as well as nationally) and was directional in its intent – using the verb “turn” as a way to encourage people to change their behavior. It would also serve to engage people with better heart health — specifically for women, for whom incident and death rates rival males with far less attention.
Wesley garnered 45 media mentions with local TV, radio and print outlets, 400 unique views of the “Turn Red” video and 500 Facebook “likers” for Go Red Wichita in just three weeks, as well as a 34% increase in local business “red washing” over the previous year. More important, the hospital saw a 62% increase in participation in Wesley “Go Red” events and a 40% increase in awareness for Wesley as the local leader for women′s cardiac care among polled event participants. The effort even merited a signature martini at a local wine bar.
At the beginning of a new year, consumers view healthier eating habits as a priority after indulging themselves during the holiday season. While ground beef led the beef category in overall dollar sales leading up to the new year, sales of ground beef tend to flatten after January 1 as a result of this focus on healthy eating. Cargill, the nation′s largest provider of ground beef, supports its retail partners and ground beef sales with in-store promotions, and challenged Associated to find a solution that encouraged ground beef sales during this health-conscious time period.
According to third-party research data, 70 percent of adults desire to eat healthfully, and most believe that meals prepared at home are healthier in nature than those eaten out. Because ground beef is not generally considered to be a healthy ingredient among consumers, many forego their favorite winter comfort foods, such as pizza and burgers. Associated determined that focusing on leaner ground beef products with less fat content would allow consumers to enjoy these winter favorites while still maintaining a healthier diet.
The “Square Meals Well-Rounded” ground beef promotion was built around these insights, offering unique, easy-to-prepare recipes featuring classic, yet balanced, “square meals” prepared in a round baking dish. Each recipe incorporated all four food groups and were paired with a complimentary lean ground beef product that would help consumers feel better about the meals they prepared for their families. Materials included in-store posters and meat case-mounted 90-degree signs to catch consumer attention, while case-mounted recipe pads offered all four featured recipes, allowing consumers to plan their menus on the fly while encouraging purchase of lean ground beef products. Colorful on-pack stickers, applied to lean ground beef packaging, helped reinforce the promotion′s health-conscious theme.
One of Cargill′s most well-received promotions ever among its retail partners, the “Square Meals Well-Rounded” promotion appeared in more than 2,000 retail grocery stores nationwide. Simple and minimalistic compared to many retail promotions in the grocery environment, the promotion nonetheless generated impressive results. Despite rising ground beef prices, promotion participants saw a 1.4 percent rise in ground beef volume sold and a 20.5 percent increase in sales dollars.