Objectives: 2010 marked the 25th birthday of Dairy Queen’s signature Blizzard Treat and called for a marketing/PR campaign as iconic as the treat itself. Pierson Grant Public Relations, the agency of record for American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ), was tasked with creating a multi-month campaign to generate widespread awareness throughout the U.S. to celebrate the Blizzard Treat’s 25th birthday, share the fun and excitement associated with the Dairy Queen brand, engage existing DQ fans and new customers, introduce and garner coverage for the new Mini Blizzard Treat and tie in a social media promotion through all communications outlets.
The Agency’s goals were to:
• Generate 10 national media placements
• Generate at least two media placements in select local media markets to drive customer traffic
• Earn thousands of mentions on Facebook and Twitter
• Engage bloggers to generate significant online activity
• Generate activity on the Blizzard Fan Club website and Dairy Queen Blog
• Minimize restaurant operator involvement in any initiative and promotion surrounding the birthday celebration
• Increase Blizzard Treat sales
Challenges: Pierson Grant faced a number of challenges when creating, coordinating and executing the 25th birthday of the Blizzard Treat marketing/PR campaign including working within a limited budget; shrinking newsrooms with less reporters to cover the diverse news surrounding the birthday milestone; ensuring the campaign wasn’t viewed as too promotional rather than newsworthy; overcoming media perception that a 25-year birthday may not be monumental; and sustaining a high-level of excitement and publicity for a multi-month campaign.
Solutions: To achieve Dairy Queen’s request for a multi-month campaign and reach its goals, Pierson Grant was integrally involved in the creation and coordination of the DQ Blizzardmobile, a one-of-a-kind, self-contained public attraction designed to look like an Oreo Blizzard Treat complete with DQ’s signature red spoons. The Blizzardmobile toured 25 markets in North America from April to August 2010 celebrating the Blizzard Treat’s birthday with games, music and free Mini Blizzard Treat samples and raising awareness for Children’s Miracle Network, a charity DQ has supported since 1984. Tour stop locations were determined by media presence and built-in mass audience and included: kicking off the tour in NYC on the CBS Early Show and on Fox News Channel with Miss America, heading to the IRS in Washington, D.C. to handout free Blizzard Treats to those toiling on Tax Day, stopping at the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting with Warren Buffett, meeting up with Tori Spelling and her kids at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and handing out Blizzard Treats in Minneapolis (DQ’s HQ) on Miracle Treat Day, which raised more than $4 million on one day for Children’s Miracle Network and visiting more than 20 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in the U.S.
The Agency leveraged the DQ Blizzardmobile tour in the media by creating and distributing press materials nationally and regionally including an innovative 3D press kit shaped like the Blizzardmobile filled with Blizzardmobile tour information, a map and schedule; a Dairy Queen fact sheet, historical fun facts, a look back at 1985 and the advertising campaign press release; Blizzard Treat news including Blizzard Treat fun facts and the Mini Blizzard Treat announcement release; and metal 3D Blizzardmobile key chain. The Agency also distributed local market media alerts and press releases announcing Blizzardmobile tour dates/times and special Twitter stops. In various Blizzardmobile tour markets, the Agency aligned with celebrity spokespeople including Miss America 2010, actress and author Tori Spelling and business mogul Warren Buffet to enhance publicity opportunities.
The Agency also employed traditional PR, buzz-worthy online and social media tactics nationally, regionally and locally as part of the campaign to promote: 1) the introduction of the Mini Blizzard Treat through press releases and briefs and product deliveries to area radio stations; 2) the Ebay auction of a gigantic DQ red spoon signed by Warren Buffett to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network through a press release and outreach to “Buffett” bloggers; 3) the 5th-annual Miracle Treat Day through press materials, written PSAs and media alerts, updates on MiracleTreatDay.org and the DQ Blog, website and Facebook page, an appearance by Miss America and appearances by DQ executives at various Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals; and 4) Operation Happy Birthday, an online contest for fans to post creative videos of themselves singing “Happy Birthday” to the Blizzard Treat, through a press release, announcements to the DQ Fan Club and updates on the DQ Blog, website, Facebook page and Twitter.
Additionally, the Agency included information about the Blizzard Treat’s 25th birthday celebration in all monthly “Blizzard of the Month” press release announcements which carried the message through 2010.
Campaign outcomes achieved by the Agency include:
• More than 10 diverse national media placements including Bloomberg, FOX News Channel, Daily 10 on E!, Extra TV, CBS Early Show, The Weather Channel, USA Today, In Touch Magazine, Redbook and People.com.
• Generating extensive coverage to achieve 142 million impressions valued at more than $3 million editorially
• Generating tens of thousands of Twitter mentions, in-bound links to the DQ blog and/or Facebook page.
• Garnering a variety of creative online video submissions and many in-bound links to the DQ Blog and Facebook page
Also, DQ Blizzard Treat sales spiked 18% in units sold and 17% in dollar sales immediately after kick off of Blizzardmobile Tour.
Preliminary sales numbers of the new Mini Blizzard Treat, introduced in stores in August 2010, have exceeded expectations.