In 2007, two of Australia’s iconic family companies joined forces to bottle the ingredients for the world’s greatest barbeques – beer and sauce.
Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce is the result of a unique collaboration between one of the country’s best known brewers, Coopers Brewery, and sixth generation sauce and jam producer, Beerenberg Farm.
Hughes Public Relations worked with Beerenberg Farm to develop a communication strategy to establish Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce as Australia’s only “true blue” barbeque sauce and to generate average weekly sales of six bottles per Coles stockist.
Feedback from Beerenberg showed that within a month of the media launch the Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce was its Number One selling sauce.
The success of the product in Australia has opened up additional possibilities for export, with discussions currently underway with US distributors.
The trialling and communication program has raised awareness of the product among retailers and consumers with 42,200 units sold between its launch and April 2008.
Hughes Public Relations commenced work with Beerenberg Farm in January, 2005, with a brief to raise the profile of the Beerenberg brand and achieve specific campaign objectives including increasing sales leads, raising brand allegiance and customer awareness of Beerenberg products, and creating new retail and wholesale distribution opportunities in the domestic market.
Partly as a result of the strategic advice provided and significant media coverage generated for Beerenberg across Australia, the family-owned company’s products have won shelf space in major retailers nationally. “Pull-through” of these products through advertising has been cost-prohibitive, with the company adopting a PR-led marketing strategy to build Beerenberg’s brand attributes and maximise marketing impact within a limited budget.
The Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce was seen as a key product for Beerenberg and one which could be leveraged to achieve the company’s communication objectives and raise awareness of the Beerenberg brand across Australia in a cost-effective manner.
Hughes Public Relations monitored all media in relation to Beerenberg and its competitors in the Australian market to ascertain the direction of the communications strategy.
An analysis of the barbeque sauce market was undertaken, the client briefed and a strategy developed.
The research highlighted the number of barbeque sauces on the market but emphasised that there were no other barbeque sauces using beer as the main ingredient. The strategy was tailored to highlight Beerenberg’s point of difference, using key messages and leveraging off Coopers and Beerenberg’s well known brand values.
The success of the communication program was monitored through product sales, with the fact that only three press advertisements were placed, leaving the success, or otherwise, of the Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbecue Sauce campaign attributable almost entirely to the success of the public relations effort.
- Key Food Editors/Writers – key food editors/writers were chosen as a target public because they were considered to be ‘key influencers’. By gaining their appreciation of Beerenberg products it was hoped to gain positive awareness for the brand.
- Female Consumers – with a specific bias towards females in the AB quintile who score highly on education level, income and occupation. They are likely to be the main grocery buyer in the household.
- Male Consumers – Although female consumers in the AB quintile have previously been the main target audience for Beerenberg products, as the Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce was branded with Coopers, we also chose to target male consumers aged 30+ who were likely to be the main users of the barbeque.
- Retailers – retailers were targeted with the aim of securing shelf space in supermarkets nationally for the Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce.
The Communication Strategy (see appendix A, pages 16-20) was designed to achieve the specific objectives of the campaign by targeting potential customers through tastings, food editors and key influencers, and retailers through trade shows and media.
The first stage of the strategy was to target key food editors/writers for them to gain an awareness of the Beerenberg brand in order to achieve objectives five and six. Hughes Public Relations developed a targeted media list to which, over a period of several months, a letter and key Beerenberg product was sent to slowly unveil the Beerenberg story and provide an opportunity for product tasting (see appendix A, pages 21-22). This stage was considered critical to the overall campaign as it allowed the target public to become familiar with the Beerenberg brand, prior to the launch of the Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce.
The second step in the strategy involved a launch to the trade at Fine Foods Sydney on 24-27 September, which sought to achieve objectives two, five and six. At the launch Beerenberg held a barbeque allowing visitors to the event to taste the new Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce. Tasting was considered critical to the success of the campaign.
Tasting Australia was held in Adelaide on 13-20 October. This bi-annual event is a festival celebrating the very best Australia has to offer in food, wine and beer. Tasting Australia offers a number of events designed for the nation’s food and hospitality industry, local and international media and the public. Over the opening weekend a public celebration of food, wine and beer was held on the banks of the River Torrens with over 100 stalls offering a wide range of food and beverages. Beerenberg secured a stall at the event and sold hotdogs served with Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce for $1 each. Bottles of the sauce were also available for purchase. The aim of this part of the strategy was in achieving objectives one, three, four and six.
The media launch was a key part of the strategy as, in targeting key food editors, we aimed to cover objectives one through to six. Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide were chosen as the cities for the launches. Melbourne and Sydney were chosen as the cities where most food editors/writers are based. Adelaide was a key launch location because of Beerenberg’s and Coopers heritage in the state and to maintain their already well-known brand status.
Whilst Beerenberg managing director, Anthony Paech was in Sydney we also arranged for one-on-one interviews with journalists from BRW and the Australian Financial Review which resulted in strong “corporate” articles aimed at attracting the interest and support of major retail buyers.
Implementation of the communications program consisted of the following key elements:
- Trade launch
- Consumer Launch
- Media Launch
- Media publicity campaign: limited magazine advertising
Prior to the launch of the Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce a product drop was undertaken, with one product and a letter unfolding the Beerenberg story, delivered to key food writers every two weeks over a period of two months.
The trade launch took place at the Fine Foods event held in Sydney. A barbeque was held at the event with food served with the Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce as a sampling opportunity. Managing Director Anthony Paech was personally involved in the event.
This took place at the Tasting Australia event held on the banks of the River Torrens in Adelaide. Over 20,000 people visited the event held over the weekend of 13-14 October 2007. This represented a great opportunity for Beerenberg to enable as many people as possible to sample its new product.
In the run-up to Tasting Australia the consultancy also liaised with the events team to ensure Beerenberg was able to contribute to other aspects of the Tasting Australia festival. This included:
- Use of Beerenberg products at an international media event held at the Bird in Hand winery in the Adelaide Hills on October 11 with a Beerenberg representative on hand to talk about the products and the new Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce;
- Use of Beerenberg products at a media lunch on October 16, at Hahndorf Hill Winery;
- Availability of Beerenberg jams at the Hyatt Hotel in Adelaide where members of the media were staying during Tasting Australia;
- Inclusion of a Beerenberg fact sheet, photographs and a bottle of Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce in the Tasting Australia media packs.
The media launches took place in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide and were held over a gourmet barbecue lunch (see Appendix A, page 23) where the Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce was served to influential food writers and news journalists representing some of Australia’s most widely read magazines and newspapers. Anthony Paech, Managing Director of Beerenberg, gave an overview of the company and the product at each launch and guests were able to sample the sauce over lunch as well as take a bottle away for later enjoyment. Coopers Brewery managing director Tim Cooper attended the Adelaide event. A news release (see Appendix A, page 24-25) was written for distribution along with CDs with images of the Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce. Media packs, including bottles of the sauce, were given to journalists attending the launches and were sent to those who were unable to attend.
Feedback from Beerenberg showed that within a month of the media launch, Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce was its Number One selling sauce.
The trade launch at Fine Foods attracted widespread interest and high praise from major chains, independent retailers and members of the restaurant and catering industry.
Taking part in Tasting Australia was found to be a very positive experience with people trying the hotdogs with the sauce and returning to the stall to buy a bottle. This provided valuable market feedback and stimulated strong word of mouth.
The media launches were also very successful with food writers from some of Australia’s leading titles attending. These included the Food Editor at Australian Women’s Weekly, Deputy Food Editor at New Idea, Deputy Editor of Real Living and Deputy Food Editor at Woman’s Day along with key trade magazine journalists.
Media coverage has generated more than 21 positive stories in 17 publications, specifically about the Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbeque Sauce, with circulations totalling nearly 3.2 million across Australia, to date. Media coverage was also generated about the Beerenberg brand, ethos and history in several high profile national publications (see Appendix A, page 26-36).
Objective: Generate average minimum weekly sales of six units of Coopers Ale Barbecue Sauce from Coles stockists nationally.
- Result: The trialling and communication program has raised awareness of the product among retailers and consumers with 42,200 units sold between its launch and April 2008.
Objective: Assist in securing similar shelf space in Woolworths supermarkets nationally.
- Result: Woolworths is stocking Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbecue Sauce in selected stores, monitoring its sales success ahead of the potential ranging of the product (and others) in Woolworths stores nationally.
Objective: Establish Coopers Ale Barbecue Sauce as Australia’s only “true blue, home grown” barbeque sauce.
- Result: The Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbecue Sauce became the company’s top-selling sauce product within two months and a major seller over the busy summer season. It currently sits as Beerenberg’s number two selling product in its sauce range.
Objective: Enhance the reputations of Beerenberg and Coopers as premium producers in their respective categories.
- Result: Media coverage has generated more than 21 positive stories in 17 publications, about the launch of the new sauce, with circulations totalling nearly 3.2 million across Australia, to date, all of which have enhanced the reputations of Beerenberg and Coopers.
Objective: Position Beerenberg as Australia’s leading producer of premium jams and condiments through the promotion of the company’s heritage, values and quality products.
- Result: Hughes PR was successful in pitching stories about Beerenberg’s heritage, values and quality products to several national publications including BRW, The Australian and the Weekend Australian.
- The success of the product in Australia has opened up additional possibilities for export, with discussions currently underway with US distributors.
Objective: Turn Beerenberg into a national retail brand by leveraging the national Coles distribution with marketing, PR and limited advertising support that was required to give Beerenberg the same appeal nationally as it currently has in SA.
- Result: Through events and publicity associated with the launch of Beerenberg Coopers Ale Barbecue Sauce, national media coverage was gained, lifting the company’s profile nationally.