In 2007 the Australian apple industry set a simple goal - to encourage consumers to eat more apples.
IMPACT Communications Australia (IMPACT)'s campaign created a series of milestones to give target audiences opportunities to engage with apples. Milestones needed to be - extraordinary, as apples were considered a shopping basket 'staple'. The milestones supported advertising and sampling activities and extended the life of the campaign - the focus of which was media relations.
A curve ball was thrown at IMPACT just prior to campaign launch. Frost, hail and drought had affected the size and look of the fruit - the fruit was smaller and featured skin blemishes. The goal to increase consumption was under threat.
According to Horticulture Australia Limited, IMPACT's campaign was the industry's "most successful public relations campaign yet". It reached an audience of over 39 million - more than one and a half times the Australian population. Despite the environmental affects, volume was up 2% on the previous year and value increased by 17% (an average retail price of $3.80/kg, above the target retail price of $3.20/kg).
Despite fresh apples being readily available in supermarkets/green grocers, they were perceived by consumers as a staple item and generated little excitement. Apples were experiencing strong competition from other fresh fruit and vegetables, many of which shared similar health benefits, the advantage of seasonality and the 'feel good' Factor associated with unbranded items.
An opportunity existed to fight “snack attacks” from snack companies.
The campaign needed to build loyalty to Australian apples to defend against potential import competition. The campaign also needed to address the effect of the drought on the season's crop, which included smaller fruit sizes and frost markings on the skin.
The campaign ran from February 2007 to October 2007.
IMPACT reviewed the Australian apple industry's 'Consumer Usage and Attitude research' as well as the 2006 Apple Health Report. IMPACT also reviewed previous public relations activities and associated results.
Furthermore, IMPACT used several research sources to create a .snapshot. of issues impacting the fresh fruit industry, including its own research of the highly influential food media regarding their communication needs; the Australian Bureau of Statistics; AC Neilson and Roy Morgan, Food Marketing in the 21st Century; and Pathway Research.
Research allowed IMPACT to integrate fresh thinking and new ideas into the campaign and findings were integrated into both the development and execution of the campaign.
- Primary - Skew towards female aged 30-40.
- Secondary - Under 40 households with children of secondary age.
- Food retail and grocery industry.
- Well known 'foodies' or celebrity chefs who lead and influence the industry and consumers. eating habits.
- Growers and their employees.
- Communities in apple-growing areas.
NOTE: IMPACT targeted these publics via the media.
The communication strategy centred around the question: How do we excite consumers about apples and remove its ‘staple’ positioning so they consume more?
ANSWER: CREATE A SERIES OF MILESTONES TO GIVE TARGET AUDIENCES AN OPPORTUNITY TO ‘ENGAGE’ WITH APPLES IN EXTRAORDINARY WAYS
Events & Occasions
- Valentine’s Day Season Launch
- Lunchbox Report
- Food Media Club Event
Nuts & Bolts Media Relations
- Media Releases
- Recipes & Usage Suggestions
Targeted Media Program
- One-on-one Briefings
- Targeted Pitch Product Drops
- End-ofseason Briefings
- Trade Liaison
- Trade & Media
EVENTS & OCCASIONS
(a) Valentine's Day Season Launch
To launch the 2007 apple season, IMPACT implemented a Valentine's Day 'ambush' to promote apples as fun and saucy - playing on the concept that apples are the food of love.
Extending the advertising agency’s ‘Bite Me!’ creative, a survey was run on online lifestyle site www.femail.com.au (skewed towards females aged 30-40), which cheekily asked respondents who they would most like to ‘bite’ and have ‘bite them’ for Valentine's Day. The survey also asked respondents what they consider the food of love to be.
The results were distributed in a media release to metropolitan, suburban and regional print, which also incorporated season launch and varietal information. A pre-recorded radio news release was developed and distributed to radio media targets.
Prior to mass distribution of the release, a media drop including the release, a 'Bite Me!' Valentine's Day card, a box of roses and fresh Australian apples was sent to ten ‘top-tier’ journalists. This tactic was a touch point for the target audience to ‘engage’ with apples outside its ‘staple’ positioning.
(b) ‘What’s In Your Lunchbox’ Report?
Building on the 2006 Apple Health Report, IMPACT conducted an online survey with lifestyle site www.femail.com.au to look at what Australians snack on at work and the general health of Australian workers. Top-line results of the research found:
- The majority of respondents (55%) purchased their lunch everyday.
- When it came to snacks, 56% said they would snack on fresh fruit, including apples, if the snack was brought from home.
- In contrast, just 14% said they.d snack on fresh fruit, including apples, if the snack was purchased at work.
This activity promoted apples as the best snack food choice, particularly when compared to prepackaged snacks such as muesli bars.
IMPACT leveraged a partnership with Décor to supply lunchboxes to IMPACT for distribution with apples and the ‘What’s in your lunchbox?’ media release in a media drop to target media.
The ‘What’s in your lunchbox?’ media release was distributed nationally to metropolitan, suburban and regional newspapers, radio programs, news desks, and food and lifestyle magazines, and pitched to television news and lifestyle programs.
A radio news release was recorded and distributed to metropolitan, suburban and regional radio. Pre-recording the radio news release greatly contributed to the success of this tactic, as it allowed the campaign to reach suburban and regional radio stations that would not have had the resources to conduct their own interviews.
(c) Food Media Club Educational Event - And all that jazz…
The Food Media Club (FMC) is an association of food professionals, including journalists, publishers, recipe developers, nutritionists and teachers. It meets regularly to discuss issues in food writing, products, innovations and breaking food news.
IMPACT organised a FMC educational event to discuss the 2007 apple season. This was an ideal forum to educate Australian food media on the affect of drought and frost on the fruit, industry innovations and breeding programs. A drawcard to the event included the launch of a new apple variety ‘Jazz’.
The event was included in the FMC official calendar and the member database was used to distribute the invitation. FMC promoted the event via its newsletters and Food4Media, the online food news service for media.
‘And all that jazz…’ was held at the Park Hyatt Sydney in May 2007 and gave guests an opportunity to engage with the fruit. The Park Hyatt.s executive chef, Alessandro Pavoni, spoke to guests about the best ways to cook with Australian apples (SEE APPENDIX A).
The event included displays of the different varieties, allowing journalists to become familiar with the lesser-known varieties. Staff were on-hand to discuss what each variety was best used for (i.e. cooking, salads or desserts) and sampling took place.
NUTS & BOLTS MEDIA RELATIONS
(a) Media Releases
Media releases were used to raise awareness of apples, communicate health benefits and varietal information. Each media release included a relevant news angle, recipe information and photography. The media release topics were:
- KISSED BY NATURE: Focused on the effects of drought, frost and hail. Incorporated a call-to-action for consumers to get behind growers and buy Australian apples. Resulting coverage included a grower profile in Australian Good Taste, and prompted both Coles and Woolworths to introduce new flexible ‘acceptance’ guidelines relating to the size and ‘aesthetic’ look of the fruit on shelf.
- WINTER WARMER: Focused on health messages to reduce the risk of winter weight gain and offered healthy recipe alternatives for winter favourites, such as apple crumble, muffins and fruit toast (SEE APPENDIX A).
- APPLES WHEN PREGNANT: Focused on the results of an academic study that showed women who eat apples when pregnant reduce the risk of their child developing asthma. This media release was specifically targeted to parenting publications.
- HEART HEALTH: Focused on the health messages surrounding the relationship between eating apples and reducing the risk of developing heart disease. Incorporated a call to action for consumers to swap pre-packed snacks for fresh Australian apples.
IMPACT also tailored the ‘KISSED BY NATURE’ media release to support the apple industry’s in-store sampling activity. Releases included a call-to-action to attend local sampling events and taste the season.s fruit.
(b) Opportunistic PR
To give the Australian apple industry the opportunity to own the healthy snack position and dominate share-of-media-voice, IMPACT distributed two reactive statements to the media. The ‘available for comment’ topics were:
- HIDDEN FATS IN HEALTHY SNACKS: Focused on the industry position that fresh fruit, specifically apples, are a healthier snack than pre-packaged snacks. This alert was issued in response to a CHOICE survey that named and shamed falsely-labelled pre-packaged snacks.
- PRICES WILL RISE: Focused on the impact of the drought on the Australian apple, specifically referring to the Murray-Darling region. The release discussed an announcement that food prices would rise without water access for farmers.
(c) Usage Suggestions and Recipe Development
To increase media interest in Australian apples and support the nuts & bolts program, IMPACT developed a number of usage suggestions and recipes, including photography (SEE APPENDIX A).
IMPACT’s research demonstrated that while the food media is interested in usage suggestions above recipes, suburban and regional press are heavily reliant on the supply of recipes and images. IMPACT also leveraged existing apple recipes to maximise previous investments.
TARGETED MEDIA PROGRAM
(a) One-on-One Briefings
To engage key journalists with apples and provide information directly from the ‘source’, IMPACT organised a series of one-on-one briefings that is read/viewed by apples’ target audiences. These included:
- New Idea - Barbara Northwood, Food Director
- ABC Television: Midday News - Simon Palan, Reporter
- Australian Women.s Weekly - Alex Elliot, Food Editor
- Australian Table - Ylla Wright, Features and Lifestyle Editor
- Good Health and Medicine - Kate Minogue, Features Editor
- Australian Gourmet Traveller - Adelaide Lucas, Assistant Food Editor
- Today Tonight - Helen Wellings, Consumer Reporter
- Australia Women.s Weekly - Sarah Schwikkard, Test Kitchen
- 2GB: Afternoons with Chris Smith - Chris Smith, Presenter
- The West Australian - Margaret Johnson, Food Editor
- Australian Women’s Weekly - Pamela Clark, Test Kitchen
- Woman’s Day - Jennene Plummer, Food Director
(b) Targeted Pitch Product Drops
Targeted pitch product drops were an important way to introduce key target media to different apple varieties, facilitate a ‘connection’ with the produce and secure media coverage.
IMPACT completed three targeted pitch product drops during the campaign:
- Fresh TV (Channel Nine).
- Simply Food (The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Herald Sun, The Sunday Herald Sun).
- New Idea.
Each drop secured media interest and coverage.
(c) End-of-Season Briefings
To maximise exposure in long-lead publications, such as Australian Good Taste and Australian Women’s Weekly, IMPACT conducted end-of-season briefings with all long-lead media.
End-of-season briefings involved liaising with long lead media regarding their needs for the 2008 apple seasons and providing them with produce for photography while it was still available.
(a) Trade Liaison
Buyers within the Australian retail and supermarket environment are a crucial audience for the Australian apple industry.
To keep this audience up-to-date on the latest developments, IMPACT organised regular distribution of all media releases to key trade contacts, including retail buyers and markets. This ensured trade stakeholders were ‘engaged’ with the Australian apple industry.
(b) Trade & Media
Another tactic of the stakeholder communications was to connect trade and the Australian apple industry via media. IMPACT targeted and secured coverage in important trade publications, including Retail World and Food Services News.
IMPACT also organised for Woolworths to be involved in a media interview, alongside an apple industry spokesperson, with ABC Television: Midday News. The interview covered the ‘KISSED BY NATURE’ media release and the introduction of new flexible ‘acceptance’ guidelines relating to the size and ‘aesthetic’ look of the fruit on shelf.
The Australian apples campaign involved a number of communications tools that were critical in achieving its ultimate goal - reinvigorating the positioning of fresh apples and increasing consumer consumption.
The campaign was evaluated using key message and media analysis, along with Q&A responses from growers and spokespeople. The campaign reached 33,391,357 people - more than one and a half times the Australian population.
The overall success of the campaign is demonstrated by the table below:
|Generate media coverage on Australian apples, their quality, benefits and usage||
|Generate media coverage to assist in the generation of apple sales||
|Assist in raising the consumption of apples from 9kg to 9.6kg -ANDEncourage
Consumers to buy more apples on a weekly basis
|Ensure apples were positioned for taste, convenience, snacking
|Generate loyalty to Australian grown apples in response to the threat of imports||