Cooking Up Demand for Rapid Cook Appliances
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
CEO

Cooking Up Demand for Rapid Cook Appliances

In 2000, Jenn-Air assigned Carmichael Lynch Spong the duty of creating excitement for the Accellis 5XP, a rapid-cook wall oven.

Paul Holmes

 

In 2000, Jenn-Air assigned Carmichael Lynch Spong the duty of creating excitement for the Accellis 5XP, a rapid-cook wall oven. CLS and Jenn-Air’s strategies generated placement in virtually every key newspaper, broke through to influential high-end food magazines that had long ignored Jenn-Air and built relationships with America’s top chefs. 

The campaign culminated with a glowing review in the New York Times, five minutes on The Today Show and dozens of product orders – before the oven even hit store shelves.

BACKGROUND

Call it the legacy of the microwave.  While microwaves are a household staple, they have created one lasting impression: when it comes to cooking quality food, good things come to those who wait. 

In the fall of 1999, Jenn-Air appliances developed a product that could change that impression, the 5XP wall oven, a product that cooked food five times faster than a conventional oven – without sacrificing food quality.  

To publicize this truly impressive product, Jenn-Air came to Carmichael Lynch Spong with this challenge – without any advertising support, create a new image for rapid-cook appliances and generate demand for the Accellis 5XP.  CLS did this through a public relations plan that included trade show activity, media relations, dealer support and third-party endorsements.

RESEARCH

Primary research showed broad interest in rapid-cook products, but consumer reluctance to trade quality for speed.

Focus groups showed people had a 30-minute window for dinner preparation.  If they could not cook dinner in that time, they turned to  prepared foods.

Secondary research showed high-end kitchen remodels are expected to increase in the next five years.

PLANNING

Objectives

  • Drive inquiries for the Accellis 5XP wall oven.
  • Generate awareness and stimulate preference for the Accellis products.
  • Overcome the perception that rapid cooking and high-quality food are diametrically opposed concepts.

Positioning

The Jenn-Air Accellis 5XP wall oven helps busy people reclaim family time by cooking food up to five times faster than a conventional oven, without sacrificing quality.  

Target Audiences

  • Adults aged 25-54; $50,000+ HHI
  • Jenn-Air dealers
  • Kitchen designers and home remodelers

Target Media

  • National and local consumer media
  • Home and Shelter
  • Cooking, Epicurean
  • Design, Building and Remodeling trades

CHALLENGES

No national advertising support.  PR was the only communication tool.

No national introduction.  Due to stock price woes, Jenn-Air shelved a launch event at the 11th hour. 

Bad image of rapid cook. Previous rapid-cook products failed to deliver on the promise of oven-quality food, so media relations efforts needed to overcome an initial distrust.

BUDGET

$275,000 fee + expenses

EXECUTION

Strategy One: Get out early with pre-availability push

Tease availability with distribution of national press kit.  In order to keep pace with competitors who were also introducing rapid-cook products, CLS and Jenn-Air distributed a national press kit months before product availability.

Introduce product via a high-profile media breakfast.  Jenn-Air introduced key media to the quality results and time savings of the Accellis 5XP by hosting a media breakfast at the important International Builder’s Show.  CLS hired celebrity chef Dean Fearing to cook a gourmet meal in record time. To encourage attendance CLS developed a creative invitation with the headline “Fresh Food.  Fast.”

Strategy Two: Generate demand through consumer media relations

“It’s hard to impress editors, but Jenn-Air’s Accellis 5XP gave us a thrill.”- Home Magazine

Media Taste Tests: CLS and Jenn-Air scheduled one-on-one meetings with tier one media shortly before product availability. 

These meetings helped demonstrate product quality and showcase the vast quality differences between the Accellis 5XP and competitive products.

Sustain Momentum Through Ongoing Media Relations: CLS generated continuing publicity by targeting ongoing pitches at key news outlets. CLS supplemented these pitches with product testing invitations to important media.

Strategy Three: Establish credibility with influencers

Ready-Set-Cook: To break through the clutter at the key trade shows, CLS and Jenn-Air staged the Food Network’s “Ready…Set…Cook!” program.   Using the Food Network’s on air talent as the host, Jenn-Air and CLS enlisted top chefs for a rapid-cook rendition of the popular game show.

The affiliation with the Food Network also helped raise Jenn-Air’s profile by borrowing the network’s considerable food industry credibility.

IBS Teaser Postcard: To stimulate interest in Jenn-Air prior to the Builder’s Show, CLS  teased the introduction of the Accellis oven via a postcard that read “It’s about time…”  CLS sent the postcard to 30,000 pre-registered show attendees.

Builder’s Show Sponsorships: To drive traffic and reinforce key product messages at the Builder’s Show, Jenn-Air and CLS sponsored napkins at show concession stands.  CLS created 100,000 napkins that read “Just Imagine” and listed three gourmet items that could be cooked in less than 10 minutes.   

Designer Breakfast at Industry Trade Show: Jenn-Air hosted a designer-only breakfast that focused on trends in kitchen appliance design.

Chef Affiliations: To establish credibility, Jenn-Air and CLS identified and enlisted the support of some of America’s highest profile chefs.  These affiliations helped Jenn-Air live up to its tagline – The Sign of a Great Cook.

“It (The Accellis 5XP) blew my mind.  I was skeptical until I saw it in action and it made the best chicken I ever had, and in about 11 minutes.” - Chef Dean Fearing in the New York Times

RESULTS

Objective One: Create inquiries for the Accellis 5XP wall oven

Web traffic: Jenn-Air’s special Accellis Web site received 184,413 hits from more than 150,000 distinct visitors.  All these hits came without the aid of advertising or sales collateral.

Web leads: Jenn-Air.com recorded 3,500 qualified leads prior to product availability.

Pre-orders: The PR efforts generated $125,000 in sales, enough to cover one half of the PR investment.

Dealer support: Due to the flood of publicity, Jenn-Air received numerous dealer requests to carry the product.  This prompted Jenn-Air to increase from 90 preferred dealers to 120 outlets.

Objective Two: Generate awareness and stimulate preference for the Accellis products

Media relations: Efforts to date have generated more than 400 total media placements.

Media relations created more than 130 million gross impressions.

Secured feature placements in high-profile newspapers including the New York Times, The Wall St. Journal and New York Newsday. 

Earned coverage in high-end consumer magazines such as Southern Accents, Architectural Record and House Beautiful.

Secured a five-minute segment on NBC’s Today Show.  In segment, Today show host Katie Couric and guest used the Accellis 5XP to cook a Salmon En Croute in 3.5 minutes.

Media breakfast : Attracted more than 40 media members, including the Wall St. Journal, the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune.  Placements included the Wall St. Journal and syndicated Chicago Tribune and San Antonio Express-News articles.  

Attendance at booth shows: “Ready…Set…Cook! contests dominated trade show buzz.  Hourly event regularly attracted more than 100 people at the Jenn-Air booth for duration of event. 

Objective Three: Overcome the negative images of rapid cook.

One-on-one meetings: Scheduled one-on-one meetings with 12 influential publications that historically had not featured Jenn-Air products.  Briefings generated coverage in influential publications such as Food & Wine, Fine Cooking and Home magazine.

Chef relationships: CLS developed relationships with top chefs, including internationally known names such as Charlie Trotter and Dean Fearing.  These chefs offered favorable quotes on the product in the New York Times and American Homestyle.

Product awards: Jenn-Air earned the prestigious Popular Science product of the year award for home innovation.
Jenn-Air earned the ADEX award for product design. 

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