Keeping Silk's Soul: Telling the Silk Story
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Keeping Silk's Soul: Telling the Silk Story

In 2004, the biggest risk facing Silk Soymilk was the erosion of its base. With a substantial investment in advertising to reach the masses, Silk looked to PR to keep the base happy. By getting the word out about Silkfs good works, CLS helped Silk not only maintain but grow its share among its base of natural foods consumers.

Paul Holmes

In 2004, the biggest risk facing Silk Soymilk was the erosion of its base. With a substantial investment in advertising to reach the masses, Silk looked to PR to keep the base happy. By getting the word out about Silkfs good works, CLS helped Silk not only maintain but grow its share among its base of natural foods consumers.

Things were looking good for White Wave, the makers of Silk Soymilk in 2004. Silk sales were skyrocketing as more consumers started buying this longtime natural foods staple in mainstream grocery stores. Amidst this growth, Silk was poised to launch a $22 million ad campaign, the biggest in its history.

All of this success made the folks at White Wave very nervous.

Silk built its name as the darling of the natural natural foods industry by using all organic ingredients and selling to natural foods enthusiasts. But as that market reach saturation, sales drifted to mainstream grocery. Increasingly, Silk found itself competing for consumers with no interest in organic foods.

And as the company vigorously chased the mainstream audience, it knew that itfs dominance in the natural foods industry was in jeopardy. If natural foods consumers started to see Silk as just another mainstream brand, theyfll experiment with another provider.

Silk couldnft afford to let that happen. So in 2004, Silk Soymilk came to its agency Carmichael Lynch Spong with a new challenge: As Silk reached mainstream audiences with ads and samples, PR needed to keep the core happy by showing the brandfs good works.

Soymilk sales figures demonstrated the lionshare of growth was occurring in club and mainstream channels. Proprietary research showed that only 20 percent of potential consumers considered gorganich to be a compelling reason to purchase, compared to 60 percent of existing consumers.

The objectives of the campaign were to spread the word about White Wavefs mission and values by placing the brand in top business publications and programs and to maintain Silkfs 85 percent market share in natural foods stores.

The strategies were to:
‡” Demonstrate White Wavefs authenticity and the value of the organic business model.
‡” Show White Wavefs ability to take the Silk brand to new heights by publicizing the growth of the soy industry.
‡” Rekindle the enthusiasm from the natural foods trades.

To demonstrate White Wavefs authenticity and the value of the organic business model, the PR team launched the Soymilk in Schools initiative. It interjected White Wave into a developing story on access to soymilk in schools; used Silkfs investment in soymilk vending machines as evidence of its commitment to making soymilk available; and pitched national reporters on profiling the developing issue using White Wavefs president Steve Demos as spokesperson.

The PR team also reiterated White Wavefs commitment to organic farming by publicizing position as Americafs best selling organic packaged good brand. It tied White Wavefs organic farming into the slow food movement, a consumer burgeoning movement dedicated to sustainable agriculture. And it again pitched White Wave founder Steve Demos as an expert source on the new movement.

The team also used White Wavefs sponsorship of Farm Aid, a charity benefit, as a platform to make the case for organic farming.

To show White Wavefs ability to take the Silk brand to new heights by publicizing the growth of the soy industry, the PR team continued telling the Silk soymilk entrepreneurship story that in past years had earned White Wave coverage in the USA Today, Forbes, Fortune and the Associated Press, focusing pitches on untapped targets such as Reuters and Inc. magazine.

The team used the Silk soymilk advertising account review as tool to create a story on growth of soy industry. It pitched exclusive account review story to New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliot, and timed the story for day the White Wave awarded the account to the new advertising agency.

To rekindle the enthusiasm from the natural foods trades, White Wave hosted a media event to introduce the local Denver business media and the natural foods trades to TofuTown a new line of marinated, cooked and cubed tofu. It used the product launch as a way to reach trade editors, giving natural foods media opportunity to meet and interview top White Wave executives. And it encouraged trade editors to call for sounds bites, perspective and info on industry trends from White Wave CEO.

The total media relations campaign generated more than 500 media placements and 200 million gross impressions.

Business media pitching generated 48 million gross impressions. The campaign generated media coverage in eight of the 15 target business press outlets and nationally syndicated stories in the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswire and Associated Press. Other print highlights includes Business 2.0, the New York Times and Denver Post.

Broadcast segments featuring Silk and its business strategy include NBC Evening News and NPRfs Marketplace program.

The entrepreneur story generated coverage in Business 2.0 and Reuters.

The Slow Food pitch generated coverage in USA Today. A Time magazine feature is planned for latter in the year.

The TofuTown event and announcement reached editors at industryfs three key trades: Nutrition Business Journal, Natural Foods Merchandiser and Delicious Living. The trade initiative resulted in increased presence in trade publications, including presence in story on industryfs top innovators. And the Soymilk in schools initiative yielded high-profile coverage from NBC Evening News, the Associated Press and the Wall St. Journal. To date, the effort has generated118 media placements for 11 million gross impressions.

FY 2003 Silk sales are on track to reach $320 million, 9 percent higher than forecast. Silkfs share in natural foods markets increased to 89 percent, a 4 percent gain. The refrigerated soymilk category, which Silk controls 81 percent of, grew by 28 percent. And a user survey showed that nearly 20 percent of Silk consumers said a news article prompted them to try Silk for the first time.

Things were looking good for White Wave, the makers of Silk Soymilk in 2004. Silk sales were skyrocketing as more consumers started buying this longtime natural foods staple in mainstream grocery stores. Amidst this growth, Silk was poised to launch a $22 million ad campaign, the biggest in its history.

All of this success made the folks at White Wave very nervous.

Silk built its name as the darling of the natural natural foods industry by using all organic ingredients and selling to natural foods enthusiasts. But as that market reach saturation, sales drifted to mainstream grocery. Increasingly, Silk found itself competing for consumers with no interest in organic foods.

And as the company vigorously chased the mainstream audience, it knew that itfs dominance in the natural foods industry was in jeopardy. If natural foods consumers started to see Silk as just another mainstream brand, theyfll experiment with another provider.

Silk couldnft afford to let that happen. So in 2004, Silk Soymilk came to its agency Carmichael Lynch Spong with a new challenge: As Silk reached mainstream audiences with ads and samples, PR needed to keep the core happy by showing the brandfs good works.

Soymilk sales figures demonstrated the lionshare of growth was occurring in club and mainstream channels. Proprietary research showed that only 20 percent of potential consumers considered gorganich to be a compelling reason to purchase, compared to 60 percent of existing consumers.

The objectives of the campaign were to spread the word about White Wavefs mission and values by placing the brand in top business publications and programs and to maintain Silkfs 85 percent market share in natural foods stores.

The strategies were to:
‡” Demonstrate White Wavefs authenticity and the value of the organic business model.
‡” Show White Wavefs ability to take the Silk brand to new heights by publicizing the growth of the soy industry.
‡” Rekindle the enthusiasm from the natural foods trades.

To demonstrate White Wavefs authenticity and the value of the organic business model, the PR team launched the Soymilk in Schools initiative. It interjected White Wave into a developing story on access to soymilk in schools; used Silkfs investment in soymilk vending machines as evidence of its commitment to making soymilk available; and pitched national reporters on profiling the developing issue using White Wavefs president Steve Demos as spokesperson.

The PR team also reiterated White Wavefs commitment to organic farming by publicizing position as Americafs best selling organic packaged good brand. It tied White Wavefs organic farming into the slow food movement, a consumer burgeoning movement dedicated to sustainable agriculture. And it again pitched White Wave founder Steve Demos as an expert source on the new movement.

The team also used White Wavefs sponsorship of Farm Aid, a charity benefit, as a platform to make the case for organic farming.

To show White Wavefs ability to take the Silk brand to new heights by publicizing the growth of the soy industry, the PR team continued telling the Silk soymilk entrepreneurship story that in past years had earned White Wave coverage in the USA Today, Forbes, Fortune and the Associated Press, focusing pitches on untapped targets such as Reuters and Inc. magazine.

The team used the Silk soymilk advertising account review as tool to create a story on growth of soy industry. It pitched exclusive account review story to New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliot, and timed the story for day the White Wave awarded the account to the new advertising agency.

To rekindle the enthusiasm from the natural foods trades, White Wave hosted a media event to introduce the local Denver business media and the natural foods trades to TofuTown a new line of marinated, cooked and cubed tofu. It used the product launch as a way to reach trade editors, giving natural foods media opportunity to meet and interview top White Wave executives. And it encouraged trade editors to call for sounds bites, perspective and info on industry trends from White Wave CEO.

The total media relations campaign generated more than 500 media placements and 200 million gross impressions.

Business media pitching generated 48 million gross impressions. The campaign generated media coverage in eight of the 15 target business press outlets and nationally syndicated stories in the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswire and Associated Press. Other print highlights includes Business 2.0, the New York Times and Denver Post.

Broadcast segments featuring Silk and its business strategy include NBC Evening News and NPRfs Marketplace program.

The entrepreneur story generated coverage in Business 2.0 and Reuters.

The Slow Food pitch generated coverage in USA Today. A Time magazine feature is planned for latter in the year.

The TofuTown event and announcement reached editors at industryfs three key trades: Nutrition Business Journal, Natural Foods Merchandiser and Delicious Living. The trade initiative resulted in increased presence in trade publications, including presence in story on industryfs top innovators. And the Soymilk in schools initiative yielded high-profile coverage from NBC Evening News, the Associated Press and the Wall St. Journal. To date, the effort has generated118 media placements for 11 million gross impressions.

FY 2003 Silk sales are on track to reach $320 million, 9 percent higher than forecast. Silkfs share in natural foods markets increased to 89 percent, a 4 percent gain. The refrigerated soymilk category, which Silk controls 81 percent of, grew by 28 percent. And a user survey showed that nearly 20 percent of Silk consumers said a news article prompted them to try Silk for the first time.

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