In December 2005, Weber Shandwick partnered with George Weston Foods (GWF), one of Australia's largest food manufacturers, to launch the country’s first low-GI (Glycemic Index) white bread, UP EnerGI from Tip Top.
Research established that although white bread was Australia’s most popular choice, capturing 49% of the total market, there was an emerging trend towards healthier offerings. The majority of purchasers were young families however trends suggested that while children preferred the white bread taste, parents were becoming increasingly concerned about its limited nutritional value (Appendix A1). This shift towards ‘healthier’ options in grocery was becoming critical in an environment where 25%* of children are considered overweight or obese.
As such, an opportunity existed for GWF to grow the category by creating UP EnerGI, incorporating the white bread taste with the health benefits of low GI.
The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates based on their effect on blood glucose levels. Low-GI foods are broken down slowly by the body. Low-GI foods help maintain energy levels, manage weight, maintain a healthy heart, aid concentration and make people feel fuller for longer.
A number of challenges were faced. GWF’s biggest competitor was also launching a low-GI white bread, making it critical to take ownership of the first to market position. In addition, bread is deemed to be of low news value, with white bread in particular being difficult to promote due to perceived low health benefit. As such, the launch needed a strong strategy focusing on the benefits of a low-GI diet for Australian children. As the GI concept is relatively complex, a solid understanding of its benefits was lacking. Therefore, PR was identified to be the most appropriate activity to drive the launch and education campaign.
To ensure Weber Shandwick adopted an informed approach to planning this campaign, detailed research was conducted.
Firstly, Weber Shandwick carried out an analysis of women’s lifestyle magazines and talk shows (Appendix A2). This confirmed media were interested in GI, but that confusion existed about what it meant for consumers. A media audit was also conducted to find out whether a leading Australian nutritionist would be a desirable interviewee (Appendix A2).
To investigate the target audience, Weber Shandwick conducted telephone research amongst mothers with children aged three to 15 years, assessing their children’s eating habits and concerns surrounding health and nutrition (Appendix A2). This identified that children are unlikely to eat bread other than white and that this is a key concern for mothers, who do not feel there is a strong nutritional benefit.
This research provided valuable insights. The lack of detailed understanding amongst media surrounding GI, suggested an educational approach should be taken. Enlisting the help of a leading Australian nutritionist would be crucial to communicating the benefits of low GI, while providing credible endorsement. In addition, confirmation that children’s health and nutrition was a key concern of our target audience suggested that media coverage on the product and health benefits had the potential to drive significant purchase.
The primary target audience was mothers with children aged three to 15 years, 57% of white bread purchases are made by this young family category (Appendix A1). Data showed this audience also accounted for the majority of the gap between Tip Top and its biggest competitor (Appendix A1). Driving purchase amongst this group would be central to achieving the campaign goals.
School canteens were also identified as an important target. Canteens are key influencers of mothers with school-aged children, as children ask for food at home which they enjoy at school. Recent policy change has meant canteens are setting an example for healthy eating. Nutritionists and dieticians were identified as being influences of the key target audience, therefore engaging with a nutritionist who was highly regarded amongst their peers would be important. Finally, members of the grocery trade were targeted, as potential influencers at the point of purchase.
To ensure maximum impact, Weber Shandwick devised a launch strategy which incorporated a multi-layered media relations campaign, utilising creative initiatives underpinned with independent health expert endorsement.
The team identified and engaged Australia’s leading GI advocate and chair of Glycemic Index Limited, Professor Jennie Brand-Miller. Glycemic Index Limited is a non-profit company run out of the University of Sydney that administers the Glycemic Index Symbol Program, a health food labeling initiative.
As the target audience are significant consumers of print and broadcast media, it was determined that exposure through these channels would be key to communicating messaging around the product and GI concept. In order to achieve maximum cut through, Weber Shandwick devised tailored activities for key media outlets. A series of “lunch and learn” events where hosted in publishing houses, to encourage maximum attendance of time poor media.
For broadcast, a creative media drop program was implemented. This saw the delivery of gourmet sandwiches made with UP EnerGi from TIP TOP at radio and television stations. This ensured timely delivery and aimed to grab the attention of the broadcasters, encouraging a mention on air.
Direct to consumer sampling was not undertaken due to the difficulty of finding a location with a high concentration of the audience, which was both cost effective and did not draw sales away from important trade partners. A consumer competition was developed instead, which provide vouchers to trial the product.
The campaign key messages were:
- New UP EnerGI from TIP TOP is the first low GI white bread in Australia
- UP EnerGI from TIP TOP is endorsed by University of Sydney and GI expert Jennie Brand-Miller
- Low GI foods are broken down slowly, making energy available to the body for a longer period of time. UP EnerGI from TIP TOP provides a soft white bread that is low GI for sustained energy
- UP EnerGI from TIP TOP, while enriched, does not compromise on taste, softness, freshness and size
Weber Shandwick executed a four-phase campaign as follows:
Media information kit (Appendix A3)
Weber Shandwick worked with the GWF team and resident nutritionist to develop a bank of media materials including: media release, FAQs; bread consumption statistics; sandwich filler recipes; GWF backgrounder; product backgrounder; GI backgrounder; biographies of Professor Brand-Miller and the GWF nutritionist. This was designed to educate the media on the product and low GI concept, making it relevant to them and their target audience. The commentary from Professor Brand-Miller, provided credible third party endorsement.
Publishing house tours and media luncheons (Appendix A3)
Weber Shandwick hosted a series of lunches at Australia’s top tier publishing houses, with presentations by Professor Brand-Miller and GWF’s nutritionist. In order to create cut through, a creative teaser in the form of a bread board was sent to all journalists along with the invitation, shaped like a piece of bread. At the lunch, journalists were provided with the media kit and an opportunity to sample the bread via a selection of gourmet sandwiches. Media materials were also distributed to a broader media list, with the offer of an interview.
Broadcast push (Appendix A3)
Weber Shandwick worked with the producers of two popular television programs to develop segments on low-GI foods and the benefits for children: “Mornings with Kerri-Anne”, a talk show aimed at mothers and stay-at-home carers aged 25-54, and Sky News Health, which takes an educational approach to health and nutrition news. These segments included appearances by Professor Brand-Miller, detailing the GI concept in relation to the new bread. A launch day radio drop maximized the broadcast opportunity.
School canteens and community newspapers (Appendix A3)
The team worked with Australia’s most influential school canteen publication, Canteen News, to contribute to a bread review feature. An interview was coordinated between the editor and Professor Brand-Miller. Comprehensive briefing notes were developed to assist in communicating the desired campaign messages.
In addition, a competition ran in New South Wales community newspapers (Fairfax) to win a range of prizes courtesy of UP EnerGI from TIP TOP. This included an UP EnerGI-branded trampoline which tied in well with the sustained energy message of low GI, Professor Brand-Miller’s low-GI cookbook to provide further education on the concept, and grocery vouchers to encourage consumer trial.
Weber Shandwick effectively drove coverage of the benefits of low-GI and UP EnerGI across multiple media targets. Coverage across print and broadcast media reached 10.6M consumers – nearly half of the entire population of Australia, at a cost of less than 0.005 cents per hit. 100% of coverage carried the low-GI message (Appendix A4).
The latest data shows UP EnerGI sales have exceeded all expectations. The once widening sales gap between the UP range and its biggest competitor is now closing, as UP EnerGI purchase rose to more than 2M units nationally over a four month period (Appendix A5). Sales of the UP range of breads have increased by 28% since the launch – a significant increase for a cluttered category of 246 brands.
In addition, the community newspaper competition reached more than 2M people and secured approximately 1,200 entries – well above Fairfax’s average for competitions (Appendix A4).
In order to assess the success of this campaign, Weber Shandwick revisited the goals and objectives and measured these against the outcomes:
1. Launch UP EnerGI in Australia with extensive media coverage across TV, radio and print
This objective has been achieved with the campaign generating significant media coverage across TV, radio and print titles. Reaching 10.6M consumers in total, this included coverage before primary target audiences of mothers with children aged three to 15 years old, grocery trade and school canteens (Appendix A4).
2. Increase sales of the four breads under the UP brand, including Up-EnerGI, and ensure sales were not affected by the launch of the competitor product
This objective has been achieved with latest data showing that UP EnerGI sales have exceeded all expectations. Sales of the UP range have increased by 28% since the UP EnerGI launch and the gap is closing between the UP range and its biggest competitor (Appendix A5).
3. Build relationships with the nutrition industry
This objective was achieved by building a solid relationship with Professor Brand-Miller, the Low GI Symbol Program and the University of Sydney. Professor Brand-Miller provided credible third party endorsement before media, appeared in several print articles and made two television appearances. This will be a valuable relationship for GWF into the future.
This was the first time GWF had included PR in its marketing and communications strategy, and as a result, this has set a benchmark for further PR activities. This campaign met the goals set by GWF and made significant contribution towards the company’s bottom line.