I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!'s Biggest Breakfast in Bed
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!'s Biggest Breakfast in Bed

Imagine being served breakfast in bed while Donny Osmond serenades you in the middle of New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

Paul Holmes

Imagine being served breakfast in bed while Donny Osmond serenades you in the middle of New York’s Grand Central Terminal.  This dream became a reality for hundreds of mom who were treated to an early Mother’s Day at I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!’s  “America’s Biggest Breakfast in Bed,” a special event that brought together 50 queen-size beds, Donny Osmond, 300 mothers, 25 child waiters, 3,000 oz. of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! (ICBINB!) and turned the ordinary breakfast experience, into the extraordinary.  “America’s Biggest Breakfast in Bed” effectively brought to life I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!’s (ICBINB!) “wake up to the best” promotions platform and tongue-and-cheek personality, while media coverage for the event garnered a 5.2% increase in units sold and a 6.2% increase in dollar sales.

The brand had not incorporated any public relations into its marketing since 2000, when it ended its five-year relationship with Fabio.  In 2001, the brand shifted away from its positioning as the best tasting substitute for butter, as supported by the Fabio “romance” campaign, and moved to communicating that ICBINB! is the “ultimate margarine experience” and “the gold standard” in the category.  The brand wanted to focus on the morning as a key usage occasion and a time when ICBINB! could transform an ordinary experience – breakfast - into something extraordinary.   The consumer promotions agency had developed a platform – Wake Up to the Best - and was supporting it via a sweepstakes offering consumers a chance to sign up for a pre-recorded wake up call, with the Grand Prize being an in-person wake up call by either Donny Osmond or Wayne Newton.  M Booth was challenged to integrate with the consumer promotions plan and develop a program that would bring the “wake up to the best” platform to life.

2001 brand data revealed that the margarine category had changed significantly since ICBINB!’s national launch in 1988.  Butter was no longer seen as “evil.”  Cholesterol, fat and calories had lessened in importance.  New brands had entered the marketplace.  Extensive category research provided strong support for an evolution of ICBINB!’s positioning from “best substitute for butter” to the “ultimate margarine experience” as communicated through the brands advertising, consumer promotions and public relations.

Research also indicated that breakfast-in-bed was among moms’ favorite treat on Mother’s Day, and provided support that the breakfast-in-bed event would have strong appeal to the brand’s target audience - women 35+. 

The program objectives were to increase awareness for ICBINB!: as the ultimate margarine experience that transforms ordinary experiences into the extraordinary; bring to life ICBINB’s over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek personality; drive ICBINB! Sales.

The Strategy was to demonstrate the ICBINB! transformation in a way that directly involves and impacts consumers; use Mother’s Day as a relevant and timely holiday for both the target consumer and media; create a compelling, made-for-media event designed to garner national and local market broadcast coverage; leverage the brand’s relationship with Donny Osmond to communicate key messages

M Booth’s primary challenge during planning was to ensure ICBINB! branding and message communication in all broadcast coverage.  The approach focused on the morning as a key usage occasion for the brand and as the most strategic way to ensure brand visuals and mentions in all coverage.  The event was timed around Mother’s Day as a holiday that is traditionally associated with breakfast and that appeals to the brand’s target consumer.  The event was held the Thursday before Mother’s Day to maximize weekday broadcast coverage.



On May 9, 2002, moms were treated to an early Mother’s Day at ICBINB!’s America’s Biggest Breakfast in Bed.  Fifty Queen size beds, representing the 50 states, were spread out in Grand Central Terminal and moms from throughout the city were invited to transform their morning with a silver platter breakfast served to them by kid waiters while lying in bed.  Each mom was treated to a bedside serenade by Donny Osmond, who even hand fed muffins and scones to moms, topped with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!  Three individual breakfast shifts allowed us to accommodate the hundreds of moms who attended the event.   For each breakfast served, ICBINB! donated money to Hunger Free America, a non-profit program that provides funding solutions for school related meal programs.  This was an important hook that media replayed in their stories.
A radio promotion was conducted with WPLJ, a top-ranked radio station in New York, to drive awareness and traffic to the event.  In addition, b-roll footage, including soundbites from Donny Osmond and visuals of Donny serenading moms while they enjoyed their breakfast in bed, was fed to broadcast stations across the country.
After viewing the broadcast highlights reel from “America’s Biggest Breakfast in Bed,” it will become clear how important these visual and executional considerations were to convey ICBINB!’s brand image. ICBINB!’s imagery is yellow and the set was designed as a vision of yellow for branding continuity; all fifty beds were made with yellow sheets, pillow cases and blankets; M Booth created a yellow runway (60 feet long) so that every time the camera focused on Donny, he would appear to be in a sea of yellow; M Booth placed 3 lb. tubs of ICBINB! on each tray given to moms to ensure maximum product visibility; knowing that news stations are reluctant to mention brand name’s when reporting on events, we paid particular attention to ensuring signage from every camera angle; the signage that formed the stage’s backdrop was 30 feet high by 46 feet wide.  Each logo was three feet high and the signage was designed to start right above Donny’s head while he was standing on the stage.  Intrinsic to the design was that ICBINB!’s logo be readable from every possible camera angle; knowing that moms and kids alike could potentially be interviewed by television cameras, we needed to ensure branding on each mom and kid at the event.   M Booth created branded bibs, aprons and chef hats that read “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!’s Biggest Breakfast in Bed” to assure that each mother and child would be branded on camera. 

The results were that ICBINB! enjoyed a 5.2% increase in units sold and a 6.2% increase in dollar sales vs. YAGO for the 4-week period ending May 18, 2002. Publicity from the program exceeded more than 35 million consumer media impressions. The Breakfast In Bed event was covered live by Extra!, the syndicated TV program, Reuters, AP and local New York news shows. The b-roll package featured highlights from the event and generated visibility on more than 300 local market news stations. The event was covered in 8 out of the 10 top US markets. This over-the-top event attracted international coverage, with a crew from a Russian network reporting. The coverage successfully communicated the brand’s “wake up to the best” platform, brought to life its gold-standard positioning and leveraged its tongue-in-cheek personality. 

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