The National Peanut Board Tour
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
CEO

The National Peanut Board Tour

The National Peanut Board needed a plan to educate consumers regarding the health and nutritional benefits of peanuts and peanut butter, to teach the consumer of the peanut’s heritage and to increase the consumption of USA peanuts.

Paul Holmes

The National Peanut Board needed a plan to educate consumers regarding the health and nutritional benefits of peanuts and peanut butter, to teach the consumer of the peanut’s heritage and to increase the consumption of USA peanuts.  Hope-Beckham, Inc. knew just the way to capture the attention of millions of consumers across the United States.  How could a 53-foot peanut truck traveling around the country not be noticed?  Hope-Beckham, Inc. pitched the idea of a traveling peanut truck along with a 7-month traveling peanut festival tour to the National Peanut Board.  The board of directors loved it and Hope-Beckham, Inc. was awarded the project. The idea was not a part of the Peanut Board’s original RFP, however, the board was so enamored by the creativity of it they arranged for the funding.  
 
Public Relations Challenges, Opportunity:
 
The focus of the tour was on creating the highest level of quality interaction with the consumer.  The challenge was to educate every consumer about peanuts and to leave the impression that peanuts are among America’s most popular foods.  This tour gave Hope-Beckham the opportunity to be positive, enjoyable, engaging and most of all; influential to every consumer it came in contact with.  It also gave Hope-Beckham the opportunity to promote a product that is cholesterol-free, a good source of folic acid and contains most of the vitamins and minerals the human body requires in order to remain healthy.    
 
Research:
 
If the goal was to promote the American peanut, that’s just what Hope-Beckham, Inc. intended to do.  A plan was created to tell the story, show the diversity and heritage and to demonstrate the fun of peanuts.  To do this, USA peanuts needed to be brought to people in locations where fun was already in progress.  Hope-Beckham, Inc. wanted to do something that would target people of all ages and make them remember peanuts for a long time.  A 32-foot peanut was constructed and attached to a truck that was to travel across the United States handing out samples and merchandise while educating consumers of the nutritional attributes of peanuts and peanut butter.
 
In order to educate consumers about the American peanut, Hope-Beckham, Inc. had to know the essential messages to be communicated.  They recognized some very important and unique facts.  First, the peanut is a food associated with fun places such as ballparks, circuses and picnics.  The peanut also has a great traditional heritage worth reporting.  Famous people like Jimmy Carter, George Washington Carver and Babe Ruth are linked with the peanut.  All of these associations would be a great tie-in with the nutritional value of peanuts.
 
Public relations tools were necessary to initiate an effective program.  Hope-Beckham, Inc. decided that there would need to be a basic press kit of materials to promote the overall program to the media.  The press kit included press releases, media alerts, a fact sheet, photos, information booklets on nutritional information about peanuts and articles about the tour.
 
Along with targeting the general public, several media outlets were also targeted.  Some of these include local market daily and weekly newspapers, USA today, general interest magazines such as Parade, People, US and airline magazines, women’s magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Glamour and Mademoiselle, peanut and food industry trade publication such as The Peanut Grower, Grocery Headquarters, Southeastern Peanut Farmer and Candy Business, marketing and public relations trade publications such as Advertising Age, Adweek, Promo Magazine, PR Week and Incentive Magazine, cooking magazines, national business publications, local and national television stations and local radio stations.
 
Strategic Approach and Campaign Execution:
 
The National Peanut tour took 20 cities and 33 events by storm.  The tour began in New York on April 25, 2001 and ended in Dothan, AL on November 10, 2001.  Hope-Beckham, Inc. not only handled all elements of the logistics of moving the giant peanut from market to market but also sent information to the media in each market and set up interviews with local newspapers, TV stations and radio stations.  
 
Inside the truck, virtual reality and trivia videos were placed to assist the public in learning about various aspects of peanuts and peanut production.  The peanut tour kept the communities involved by staffing temporary positions in each of the tour sites.  Along with the temporary positions, a full-time staff of eight including a chef, truck driver, emcee, tour manager and on-site managers traveled with the peanut.
 
Outside the truck, the emcee helped to create interactive participation on the truck and energized the crowd by throwing out facts on the peanut and peanut butter.  The chef continually involved participants by demonstrating recipes made with peanuts ranging anywhere from peanut butter shakes to full entrees.  
 
Results:
 
The National Peanut Tour certainly left an enormous impression in each market it traveled through.  By the end of the 7-month tour, The National Peanut Tour was placed in 60 newspapers/magazines, 45 TV spots and 10 radio spots.  The total number of impressions generated throughout the entire tour was 78,342,174.  This number includes the impressions made while the peanut truck was traveling across the country, the amount of samples and premium items given away at each event, media coverage and the number of people who actual walked through the exhibit.  The National Peanut Tour made a huge impact in numerous markets in 2001 and will continue this impact as it travels to more markets in 2002. 
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