Fresh Express Builds the World's Largest Caeser Salad
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Holmes Report

Fresh Express Builds the World's Largest Caeser Salad

Fresh Express, the creator of retail packaged salads, and Raley’s, one of the nation’s leading supermarket chains, created a Caesar Salad of gargantuan proportions and consumers, media, retailers and key influencers ate it up.

Paul Holmes


Fresh Express, the creator of retail packaged salads, and Raley’s, one of the nation’s leading supermarket chains, created a Caesar Salad of gargantuan proportions and consumers, media, retailers and key influencers ate it up. The two partnered with the 5 A Day for Better Health Program during National 5 A Day Week to raise awareness for good nutrition and the importance of salads in a healthy diet.  Fresh Express achieved critical positioning goals with key audiences, delivered brand and product specific messages, stimulated trial and usage, cemented key retailer relationships and increased shelf space and sales.    



Create a high-profile communications effort on a low budget yet one capable of impacting multiple audiences, delivering key brand and product messages and achieving critical retail goals.

Deliver complete effort – from concept and planning to conclusion – within four weeks

Effectively address and overcome an eroding leadership position, intensely competitive environment, limited media interest or support from key influencers


Coincidental timing of National 5 A Day Week

Exceptional company with authentic leadership and passion for its product


The Fresh Salads category was “created” just ten years ago by Fresh Express when the company invented new technology.   While Fresh Express has always enjoyed a leadership position, other manufacturers developed versions of the technology and copied its product innovations.  The result: competition has fiercely heated up.  The category grew from zero in 1989 to $1.5 Billion last year, is the fastest growing of the top 25 in grocery, and represents 53% of Value Added produce profits. Yet the size of the shelf sections in stores has not grown.       

Category growth is linked to consumers’ growing awareness of the importance of daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables -- the primary message of the 5 A Day for Better Health Programs. A National Cancer Institute Survey reports that awareness of this message increased from 8% in 1991 to 38% in 1996.  5 A Day is closely aligned with key food and health influencers.  The 5 A Day imprimatur carries with it endorsement and credibility.  


To maintain leadership, Fresh Express concluded it must:

  • Differentiate itself from the competition – with retailers and consumers
  • Be a leader in the industry and in executing growth-driven changes and programs in partnership with the retailer
  • Be a champion in increasing consumer awareness of the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet
  • A quick-turn-around, low-budget program was sought to help address these needs:
Target Audiences
  • Consumers interested in healthful eating and consumers-at-large
  • Key retailers
  • Food influencers/opinion leaders
  • To create a highly visual promotion designed to break through the clutter, differentiating Fresh Express from competitors
  • To position Fresh Express as a leader in communicating the importance of the 5 A Day program and salads as part of a healthy diet
  • To demonstrate Fresh Express’ position as a value-added business partner with key retailers, leveraging the event to address the need for retailer-specific promotional programs and incremental shelf space
  • Create a “World’s Largest Caesar Salad” single-day event appealing to key audiences and worthy of widespread media attention – particularly benefiting from the immediacy and credibility of television “news”   
  • Build Fresh Express visual brand presence
  • Link Fresh Express and 5 A Day as partners; leverage the “salad” to communicate key 5 A Day messages during 5 A Day Week; 
  • Involve a select retail partner to demonstrate Fresh Express’ leadership position and communicate the importance of growth-directed partner promotion programs (trade)
  • Leverage opportunities for consumer trial

Key Messages

  • Fresh Express is an innovative and trusted consumer brand and company
  • Salads are an easy way to eat five servings a day of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh Express is a committed and inventive business partner concerned with growth of the category and the retailer’s success (trade)


Retailer selection and program/event location and parameters

“Building”/transporting /assembly of the salad bowl and salad makings

Event staging and event flow (on-site staging and set up, in-store signage and promotional components, branded costumed characters, on-site and in-store sampling, official program/presentation, a/v, music and staffing

Message matrix, spokesperson coordination and readiness

Video/print photo shoot, sound bites, on-site B-Roll package editing, and satellite distribution

Media materials to emphasize “size and scope,” link to 5 A Day and assure a newsworthy visual story; media relations/communication and coordination; monitoring

Executive and organizational liaison with Raley’s, National and California 5-A-Day, community organizations and Food for Families for day of salad donation

The salad, as finally produced, was contained in a custom-built wooden salad bowl 16 feet wide and 10 feet deep, using over 16-hundred heads of fresh romaine lettuce, 900 cloves of elephant garlic and over 150 “loaf-size” croutons and weighing in at some 3,000 pounds.

Advance community and customer outreach assured maximum crowds on-site and in-store.  Salad sampling, banners and signage, costumed characters and 5 A Day billboards and kiosks all gave a festival-like appeal to the event, with the giant salad serving as a word-of-mouth magnet.  


89 stations broadcast the VNR; 32 additional stations aired affiliate segments

72 designated market area broadcasts; 45 top 20 designated market area broadcasts

4 national cable broadcasts; 3 domestic network feeds; 4 regional cable broadcasts

8 industry outlet features (e.g. The Californian, Supermarket News)

Total media audience:  25,378,142; advertising equivalency approx. $352,594

Message delivery:  89 % of the coverage contained three or more key messages; 97 % of the coverage contained two or more key messages

5 A Day messages anchored all consumer/retailer outcomes; Fresh Express enhanced relationships with 5 A Day and its circle of critical influencers

6 postings on popular Web sites and search engines

1,900 consumers enjoyed salad samples and out-store/in-store activities

Fresh Express successfully negotiated with retail partner, increasing shelf space and sku’s.
Fresh Express leveraged the Raley’s case study as a sales tool with its top 50 accounts

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