In 2001, Morningstar Foods, manufacturer of Hershey’s Milk, launched a variety of sports marketing initiatives that appealed to the bullseye target of teen males 12 to 19. Weber Shandwick Worldwide, through a collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA), orchestrated a unique, teen male-focused, cause-related marketing program that united teens and reading and leveraged Hershey’s Milk spokesperson NASCAR driver Ward Burton. Drive to Read @ your library, was a nationwide call-to-action to raise awareness for reading among teenagers and to position today’s libraries as a dynamic community gateway center for learning, information and entertainment.
National reading test scores indicate reading scores have made no significant statistical gain since the 1970s. They also report that a smaller percentage of 13- and 17-year olds read for fun daily today than in 1971. Drive to Read @ your library was established to encourage young adults across America to step into libraries, check out a book and discover the limitless world of possibilities available through reading.
The Drive to Read @ your library program called on teens to check out one of the Best Books for Young Adults for 2001 – selected by librarians through the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the ALA – and write a short essay describing why they would recommend the book to a friend and how it’s a meaningful or inspiring book for today’s teens. Once the essay was written, teens had to have a school or public librarian sponsor their contest entry. One lucky teen and his or her guardian, as well as the sponsoring librarian and a guest, would win a trip to The Homestead Miami Speedway to meet Ward Burton and attend the day’s race.
Research and Planning
The ALA was a strategic partner from the beginning and provided Weber Shandwick with much of the research that identified teen reading as a true national need. Test scores were consulted from National Assessment for Educational Progress and teens and reading statistics were gathered from YALSA and the National Education Association (NEA) to use as facts inside of media press kits. Research on tying the program to racing and NASCAR was provided by Hershey’s Milk from their decision to direct their marketing efforts into sports initiatives.
· Create national awareness for Drive to Read @ your libraryÔ and Hershey’s Milk role in making that program a reality.
· Drive traffic to www.hersheysmilk.com.
· Secure national coverage of Drive to Read @ your libraryÔ program.
· Secure at least 75 essays to judge.
· Secure at least 200 libraries to participate in Drive to Read @ your libraryÔ program
· Secure at least 20-30 libraries to participate in milk sampling at libraries to encourage trial and increase sales of Hershey’s Milk.
· Leverage Ward Burton’s appeal with target audience to drive www.hersheysmilk.com site traffic through an online media effort.
· Stage a press conference to kick off the program to claim the day as our own.
· Implement a multi-pronged media relations outreach that fractured the broadcast, print and online media with separate and individual story angles and interview opportunities.
· Work with libraries to implement Drive to Read @ your libraryÔ in their facilities and encourage their students to participate in the program.
A press conference was held on at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with program spokesperson, Ward Burton and program partner, the American Library Association, on site.
Created a program section on the Hersheysmilk.com Web site where teens could go to download the listing of books they could select to read and download their contest entry form.
Implemented a multi-pronged media relations outreach that fractured the broadcast, print and online media with separate and individual story angles and interview opportunities.
Supported in-market grassroots marketing and Hershey’s Milk sampling with national and local ongoing media relations support for duration of campaign.
Aligned with libraries around the country to install Drive to Read @ your libraryÔ displays to drive interest and entries. Developed a program information kit that could be ordered through the Web site.
Worked with libraries to host “after-school” cyber sessions at which Hershey’s Milk would be served to teens to generate library traffic and interest in program. Developed an area on the Web site where milk sampling requests could be made.
Highlighted winning essay writer and sponsoring librarian and Miami Homestead race in November 2001.
Leveraged all local race opportunities (and subsequent Ward Burton “wins”) to garner more coverage and in-market awareness for Hershey’s Milk.
Secured national coverage of Drive to Read @ your library program.
· 32 broadcast placements (1 national)
· 23 print placements (newspaper, consumer and trade publications, op-ed, etc.)
· 1 national wire service placement (Associated Press)
· 39 postings on general, contest sites and/or teen or parent-specific sites via online PR viral effort
· 152 mat release placements to encourage teens to submit essays
Secured more than 90 essays
Secured more than 910 libraries to participate in Drive to Read @ your library program (over-delivering by 500%)
Secured 146 libraries are participating in milk sampling at libraries (over-delivering by 500%)