Holmes Report 14 Feb 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
Every March, the media turns its attention to Alaska, where more than 50 dog sled teams compete against one another in the Last Great Race on Earth, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. To keep Snausages top-of-mind with consumers and prove to retailers that Del Monte was dedicated to the brand, Coyne PR developed an attention-grabbing event that spoke to the brand’s fun and playful personality. By leveraging the media’s interest in the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, Coyne was able to create the very-first Snausages Man Sled Race, a stand-alone dog sled event that literally “turned tradition on its tail.”
With limited marketing support for the past several years, the Snausages brand was up against diminishing distribution as retailers threatened to remove product from shelves. In order to maintain profitable share and distribution levels, the brand needed to stay relevant and available to consumers until it was re-launched with new positioning. To make the issue more challenging, the competition had recently launched a national broadcast advertising campaign; therefore, support of Snausages was critical to demonstrating to the sales field and retailers that Del Monte remained committed to the brand.
• Re-invigorate the brand among consumers during transitional phase
• Capture share-of-voice from competition
The idea originated with a vision of dogs racing each other downhill on sleds, but the concept was eliminated after research showed it had been previously done. During the course of the research, the team found a good deal of information concerning the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, sparking the idea of the Snausages Man Sled Race.
Never having planned an event in Alaska, the team sought a location that would be convenient for media, but still looked as if it was taking place in the wilderness. Prior to locking in event space, the team vetted the media to make sure they would travel 30 minutes to the selected location.
Learning about the Iditarod was critical in order to model the event after the race, understand the proper terminology, event rules and tradition. As the planning began, the team learned that despite initial interest, Iditarod officials and participants are closely guarded and eventually many refused to participate. It took several days of researching and countless phone calls to find seasoned racers with the proper equipment and experience who were willing to cooperate with the idea concept.
• Develop a cost-efficient, media-genic event that conveyed the brand personality, while proving to retailers that Del Monte was committed to the brand
• Create a timely event that provided a news hook for national and local media and could be executed during the competition’s marketing campaign
• Add a charitable component that encouraged consumer participation and provided an additional news layer for media
To capitalize on media interest in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race,the Snausages Man Sled Race, was planned and executed in just three weeks. The event highlighted the special relationship between musher and dog and allowed man’s best friend to take the backseat while humans pulled the sleds and raced across a frozen lake to the finish line.
Planning an event in such a short timeframe requires flexibility and quick judgment. After weather forecasters began predicting rain and local media continued to be vague on confirming their attendance due to distance, the team sprung to action to ensure success. With less than 24 hours before start time, the team made the decision to relocate the event 40 miles north, switching venues from Girdwood to Anchorage!
Surrounded by snow (and media!) in Anchorage, the event went as planned, as humans, in branded parkas, raced across a frozen lake, while former Iditarod dogs stood behind the sleds barking out orders. Snocrates, brand mascot, served as race official, ensuring that Snausages stayed in the story, and handed out honorary plaques to the winning teams. The teams raced for a donation to the pet charity of their choice; however, afterward, the brand surprised participants by making a donation to each team’s pet-related charity.
Evaluation of Success/Results
Re-establish the brand among consumers during transitional phase
· The brand maintained shelf status and distribution levels, as consumer demand increased post-event
· PR activity surrounding the Snausages Man Sled Race created a 30 percent increase in traffic to the Snausages website, which sustained for two weeks
Capture share-of-voice from competition
· Snausages captured an overwhelming 91 percent of the share-of-voice from its competitor
· Within a day of the event, the AP photo became the “Most Emailed Photo” on Yahoo! News and maintained its place for three days
· The Snausages Man Sled Race was mentioned in more than 1,400 stories in broadcast, print and online, garnering nearly 179 million media impressions
· Top placements included multiple airings on ESPN’s “Sports Center”, Fox & Friends, Weather Channel “Wake Up with Al,” ESPN2, Versus Sports Network, Yahoo! News, AOL Paw Nation, USAToday.com, FoxSports.com, Wall Street Journal Online and SportingNews.com
· Footage from the event was also aired on the syndicated Canadian network, CTV
· B-roll was picked up by more than 250 outlets
· The resulting CPM was 86 cents
· 100% of the media’s messaging included the brand name