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Consumer marketing: California raisins launch new campaign.

In the 1980s, the California raisins danced into the hearts and lunch boxes of kids and adults alike. Today, the Raisins are back and they are encouraging adults--primarily moms--to make Wise Choices in the California Raisin Marketing Board's latest marketing program that launched last month.

MeringCarson, Sacramento, CA, designed the Wise Choices advertising program and based their campaign on research that showed raisins have a great opportunity to raise awareness and build demand among key target audiences.

"Consumers are more aware of health-related issues, but busier than ever before," said Karla Stockli, the board's Mktg VP. "We found that an opportunity exists to remind consumers--particularly women who shop for their families--of how perfectly California raisins fit in their lifestyles."


After immersing themselves in the background information and research available, the MeringCarson team developed several advertising concepts. Each campaign sought to achieve these goals:

* Create a personality for raisins that would appeal to the target audience of women with children at home.

* Re-energize the raisin image so that other important buyers--food service operators, manufacturers, supermarkets and others--would want to capitalize by offering raisins and raisin-based products.

* Craft a campaign that would raise awareness of and demand for raisins among target consumers.

When three different concepts were evaluated by consumer focus groups, the team found that women responded positively to campaigns that spoke to them as women, not just mothers. Also, raisins' health benefits were surprising and compelling to a majority of women in these groups.

"One campaign in particular featuring serene images of women consuming raisins as a part of their daily lives struck a responsive chord," said Greg Carson, partner and Creative Dir of MeringCarson. "Consumers loved the use of peaceful colors and imagery and the messages of health and empowerment embodied in the ads."

The consumer research conducted by the board and MeringCarson led directly to the development of the Wise Choices campaign. The print and online campaign launched in the October issues of Everyday with Rachael Ray, O Magazine, Food and Wine and Cooking Light. The ad will also appear in Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens, Self, and Parenting, and runs through June 2007. Key trade publications in the industrial, foodservice and retail sectors will also carry the advertising.


In addition to launching a new integrated marketing program, the board worked with BKWLD, also in Sacramento, to launch it's new and improved Web site at www.LoveYour The design for the Web site incorporates the Wise Choices campaign artwork and is a one-stop spot on the Internet for California raisin recipes, nutrition facts and manufacturing information.

At the site, consumers may also sign-up for the free monthly newsletter. The newsletter is a comprehensive source for information about California Raisins, wonderful seasonal and creative raisin recipes, nutritional information, guidance, and more.


To fully integrate the Wise Choices program with consumer marketing, the services of Fleishman-Hillard/ Sacramento were retained. The Fleishman-Hillard team worked closely with MeringCarson and the board to create a fully integrated advertising and public relations campaign.

At the onset of the program, the Marketing Board and Fleishman-Hillard commissioned a survey of more than 600 U.S. women, 25-54 years old, that found paying off credit card debt and being a stay-at-home mom were at the top of the list when it came to wise choices they would make, if they had the opportunity.

"We asked moms across the country their thoughts about the wise choices they can or would make--all in an effort to shine the spotlight on the fact that the best decision we all can make is to take good care of ourselves," said Stockli. "Whether it is exercising, eating right or just taking a few minutes for yourself, it all starts with a wise choice."

The survey found that nearly half of the moms responding, 47%, said that, if they unexpectedly received $10,000 dollars, the best use of the money would be to pay off credit card debt. Surprisingly, nearly the same amount, 40%, responded that this is also what they would want to do with the windfall--outranking such personal luxuries as taking a dream vacation, 16%, using the money toward the purchase of a house or car, 13%, or even going on a shopping spree, 7%.

In addition, the findings reveal that an overwhelming majority, 85%, of respondents would choose to be stay-at-home mothers if money was no object. Women at either end of the income scale, including those making less than $35,000 a year, 18%, and those earning more than $75,000 a year, 19%, were almost twice as likely to opt for stay-at-home status, compared to rooms who were middle-income earners, 10% of those with incomes ranging between $35,000 to $75,000).

Along with ideas about how to improve their financial health, survey respondents also shared their thoughts for improving their physical well-being. When provided with options, moms ranked drinking more water and less sugary drinks, 32%, eating smaller meals throughout the day, 27%, making healthier snacking choices, 19%, and dining out less often, 19%, as the order in which they would maintain a healthy diet.

Also, when it comes to snacking--the combination of taste, healthfulness and portability--add up to the top considerations. A whopping 39% of moms ranked these collective attributes as the most important when choosing snacks. The collective preference was tied with taste (individually ranked at 39% for the most important factor when it comes to satisfying snacking on the go.


In addition to commissioning the survey of moms, Fleishman-Hillard was further inspired by the advertising campaign, and developed a comprehensive public relations program that includes print, broadcast and online outreach.

Fleishman-Hillard secured celebrity fitness trainer Valerie Waters to serve as the national campaign spokesperson delivering messages about taking time for oneself, staying fit and eating right--especially healthy snacking with California raisins. Waters works with some of Hollywood's fittest rooms including Jennifer Garner and Kate Beckinsale. On October 6, Waters was in the spotlight touting the benefits of making Wise Choices and how California Raisins fit into a healthy lifestyle during a satellite media tour. She continued her media relations efforts in a radio media tour.

"I tell all my clients--from super stars, super moms and everyone in between--that making wise choices can keep them on-the-go and feeling better than ever," said Waters. "The focus is on the basics--choosing to make time for yourself, exercising and eating right."

To help reward consumers for making wise choices, the California Raisin Marketing Board partnered with Miramonte Resort and Spa in Indian Wells, CA, for the Wise Choices Sweepstakes. At www.Love, consumers may enter to win a weekend spa getaway at Miramonte Resort and Spa, as well as sign up for a free Wise Choices On-the-Go bag, featuring the advertising artwork, and filled with a plush California raisins character, California raisin samples, compact mirror from the spa, relaxation lotion and a refrigerator magnet to help remind women to make wise choices each day.

To coincide with the campaign launch, recipes featuring California raisins were developed and disseminated through a full-page color feature and syndicated newspaper outreach.


Following the "Wise Choices" campaign launch, year-long communications support will include national media relations and other news bureau outreach, programs targeting Hispanic consumers, sponsorship support of the More Marathon and other California raisins events, as well as a highly successful annual calendar give-away and recipe contest.

"We're excited about the new opportunities the Wise Choices program brings to California raisins and are already looking ahead to healthy opportunities in 2007," said Stockli.

The California Raisin Marketing Board was created by a State Marketing Order in 1998 and is 100% grower funded. Its mission is to support and promote the increased use of California-grown raisins and sponsor research of the fruit's nutritional benefits. To learn more about the California Raisin Marketing Board, visit

by Kim Bedwell, Fleishman-Hillard, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Doane Information Service
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Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Bedwell, Kim
Publication:Agri Marketing
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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