2008 PR News Platinum PR Issue Winner: Product Launch

The winners and honorable mentions in this year's PR news Platinum PR awards issue exemplify the most innovative approaches to redefining traditional PR with anything-but- traditional strategies. From a marketing communications effort that united a country over the search for the stars of a 1950s TV commercial to an event that landed a flock of pink flamingos around the windy city, the following winner confirms that the PR profession has indeed stepped out from the shadows to take a front-and-center role in delivering business results to their own organizations, and to their clients. Below is the winner of the 2008 PR News Platinum PR award for product launch.

M Booth & Associates and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!--Mediterranean Blend Launch

As American consumers increasingly embrace "all natural" and "organic" food trends, margarine brands--once lauded for being a healthier alternative to butter--continue to see their sales melting away. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!'s executive team decided to face the challenge head on by introducing a "Mediterranean blend" to its offerings, with the hook being the product's olive oil base.

I Can't Believe It's ... Olive Oil?

Teaming up with M Booth & Associates, the communications team set out to create awareness of the product and tout the health benefits of olive oil. The Mediterranean aspect certainly had built-in appeal, but the campaign needed a "what's in it for me?" element to get consumers interested. That element came with the team's decision to host a sweepstakes, in which the winner would receive a one-week getaway to the private island of Isla de sa Ferradura, off the coast of Ibiza, Spain.

After announcing the sweepstakes to targeted media with the help of brand spokesman fabio, the team created a microsite (http://www.tasteyoulove.com) and challenged consumers to guess the name of the yet-to-be-revealed Mediterranean island based on a series of clues. Then, a kickoff event in New York City introduced customers to the product via a virtual Mediterranean island, which was created inside an 85-foot-long glass truck. The virtual island was complete with sand, 80-degree temperatures (during the coldest season) and, of course, samples of foods made with the product. Fabio was even on hand for meet- and-greets.

"Consumers were invited to have their photo taken with Fabio," says Javier Martin, senior brand manager of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! "They were then directed to the brand's Web site to retrieve their complimentary photo, enter the contest and interact with the brand. Offering a layered experience live with Fabio and online through the photo and contest engaged the consumers and provided a rich brand experience. Brand messages were delivered through a one-on-one experience and then reinforced online later at the consumer's convenience."

Paradise Found

The launch event and its supporting components merged to create a brand experience that resonated with the target audience, thus achieving the campaign's goals: sales increased by 2.1%, web traffic shot up by 70% and more than 50,000 consumers entered the contest. What's more, 80% of media impressions contained the message around the product's olive oil base and subsequent health benefits.

When setting out to launch a new product, Martin offers this advice to executives:

"Create a memorable brand experience offline and online that brings key brand messages to life to reinforce and provide value added content for key consumers. A layered campaign with engaging media channels will provide consumers with a branded experience that will live past a product launch and help create brand loyalists."