Gourmet Cookware with a Non-Stick Surface
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
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Gourmet Cookware with a Non-Stick Surface

It used to be that no serious cook in his or her right mind would prepare a gourmet meal with non-stick pots and pans. Many felt by doing so, they would sacrifice technique for convenience.

Paul Holmes

 

It used to be that no serious cook in his or her right mind would prepare a gourmet meal with non-stick pots and pans.  Many felt by doing so, they would sacrifice technique for convenience.  DuPont heard the concerns of consumers.  In response, they created a radical new surface material called Autograph that enabled busy at-home chefs to prepare a delicious gourmet meal and clean up the after-meal mess with a quick wipe of the sponge.  It sounded like a great concept, however consumers, especially those who were proud of their culinary capabilities, needed a bit more convincing before trying this new coating.  Cohn & Wolfe believed that celebrity endorsements of the Autograph coating might be the key to educating consumers.  The implication “if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for me” would be an incentive for them to look for the Autograph name when purchasing high-end cookware.  Cohn & Wolfe traded on the Autograph name to build a relationship between avid chefs and the celebrities many of them admire.  

CHALLENGES

DuPont was confronted by two key barriers to marketing Autograph:  

Few consumers related nonstick coatings to high-end cookware.

Consumers generally bought high-end cookware based on the brand of the pot or pan, rather than the brand of the coating.

RESEARCH AND PLANNING

To further understand consumer attitudes towards gourmet non-stick cookware, Cohn & Wolfe scrutinized two-year’s worth of research conducted by DuPont.  Based on this analysis, Cohn & Wolfe learned:

  • 86 percent of consumers associate non-stick coating on cookware with moderately priced cookware, while only 27 percent associate it with high-end cookware.
  • Two thirds of consumers looked first at whether the product had a non-stick surface, while one third looked first at the product’s brand name.
  • Consumers ranked the quality of non-stick coating as the most significant factor in their purchase of cookware
  • Three quarters of those surveyed consider the brand of non-stick to be extremely or very important.

Further discussions with consumers revealed that they were willing to spend more for cookware that is considered professional or gourmet.  DuPont and Cohn & Wolfe realized there was a real opportunity to educate at-home chefs on the benefits of non-stick.  While consumers in general had overwhelmingly embraced non-stick, those who sought out gourmet cookware still needed to be convinced that the marriage of high-end cookware and non-stick was an unbeatable combination.

DuPont and Cohn & Wolfe identified two objectives for the program:

  • Break down resistance to non-stick gourmet pots and pans.
  • Build enthusiasm for the Autograph brand among high-end cookware purchasers.

STRATEGIC APPROACH

DuPont and Cohn & Wolfe knew there was something valuable in the connection between Autograph and celebrities and that an association with celebrities would give the new coating the necessary cache and stature to motivate purchase.  The link was then made between celebrity “autographs” and “signature” recipes and the Autograph Celebrity Cookbook concept was born.  Once the strategy was in place, Cohn & Wolfe conducted a thorough review of cookbooks, particularly those with celebrity “elements.”  This research showed that cookbooks featuring a variety of celebrities and their favorite recipes were unusual (most featured one celebrity and his or her recipes).  The Autograph Celebrity Cookbook was designed to feature Hollywood celebrities and top chefs (to lend further credibility), their favorite recipes, all prepared using Autograph coated cookware.

The campaign strategies:

  • Educate purchasers of high-end cookware on the ease of gourmet cooking with the Autograph non-stick surface.
  • Associate Autograph brand with celebrities for perceived cache.
  • Engage famous chefs to endorse gourmet non-stick cooking and offer third party endorsement.
  • Develop a compelling non-traditional gift-with-purchase to stimulate trial.

EXECUTION

The cookbook was developed as a high-end, hardbound, colorful, glossy book.  Cohn & Wolfe oversaw all production, from celebrity participation and recipe testing, to photography and printing.  

Cohn & Wolfe lined up a collection of stars that agreed to donate their time and recipes to the book, with the knowledge that a donation would be made to film preservation and all proceeds from the sale of the book would go to Citymeals-on-Wheels USA.   Well-known stars including Alan Alda, Janeane Garofolo, Ben Stiller and Mira Sorvino contributed their “signature” recipes for the cookbook.

Chef Michael Lomonaco of Windows on the World and host of the TV Food Network’s “Michael’s Place” was enlisted to write the introduction, contribute several of his own recipes and serve as spokesperson for the book. 

The book was offered to consumers via a special 800 number.  Additionally, the book was offered as a gift-with-purchase for consumers who bought more than $75 of Autograph coated cookware. 

Cohn & Wolfe also executed a comprehensive public relations program that included extensive media outreach and a book launch event at Window’s on the World.  

RESULTS

Objectives:

  • Break down resistance to non-stick gourmet pots and pans.
  • Build enthusiasm for the Autograph brand among high-end cookware purchasers.

The objective for the program was achieved in a number of ways:

  • Linking the brand to celebrities and securing their participation in the cookbook drove the desired excitement and cache for Autograph. The media also consistently made the link between celebrities and the brand name Autograph in their coverage, supporting the “third-party endorsement” the program sought to achieve.
  • Retailers were extremely enthusiastic about the added-value use of the book and additional books were requested due to sales increases.  220,000 copies of the book were distributed with an additional 40,000 books needed due to the success of the promotion at such key retailers such as Macy’s.
  • Additionally, public relations efforts were very successful. Chef Lomonaco conducted a 20-city Satellite Media Tour and a live cooking appearance on NBC’s Later Today program.  Both efforts in total reached more than 5.5 million people. A press kit mailing also generated over 117 articles totaling over 6.5 million in circulation.  Highlights of the newspaper coverage included The Cincinnati Post, New York Newsday, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Orlando Sentinel. 
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