Sunday, October 31, 2010

Strange Love Makes for a Hit Promotion

An unusual product requires an unusual promotion. Culturelle, a company that makes dietary supplements that aid in digestive health and immune-system functioning, was looking to promote its brand in a quirky way. The company's products are "probiotics" – healthy bacteria that aid digestion – which might confuse the average consumer who associates bacteria with disease or things unhealthy.

With this in mind, Culturelle devised the "I Love Bacteria" campaign. The company gave away T-shirts imprinted with the classic "I ♥ " icon to curious customers who saw an ad for it. After an extremely successful test-run of the campaign in September 2009,

Culturelle widened the promotion, tying it into its print and television advertising campaigns, both of which featured someone wearing the "I ♥ Bacteria" T-shirt.

The quirky giveaway met every one of the company's goals. "We grew our consumer database substantially, increased our out-of-home branding since our logo was on the back of the shirts, and even used the shirts as a giveaway that bloggers used to kick-start a program which educated consumers about Culturelle and probiotics," says Dave O'Brien, brand manager for Culturelle.

In fact, the company got much more than it bargained for. Using social media as well as more traditional outlets, Culturelle ended up with more than 100,000 requests in the first week alone. The giveaways have been put on hold for awhile due to the speed with which they were snapped up. Currently the brand's leadership is considering new ways to get the "I Love Bacteria" message out.

"People like wearing shirts that cause others to take a second look, and this shirt definitely accomplishes that," says O'Brien. "The shirt also acts as a great way to connect consumers with the brand and make it a part of their life."

Reprinted from from the October 2010 Promotion Connection Newsletter at

Lighters, Camera, Action!

The new big-screen thriller Buried has received early buzz for star Ryan Reynolds, the only actor onscreen for virtually the entire film. But Reynolds, as a kidnapped truck driver trapped in an underground coffin, isn't the only star of the movie: the Zippo lighter he's lucky enough to have in his pocket also plays a prominent role.

"We met Ryan Reynolds at the premiere, and when we said we were from Zippo, he said, ‘Oh, my costar!' " says Pat Grandy, marketing communications manager for Zippo. "The lighter is on screen for about 75% of the movie."

Zippo has worked to showcase this major role in the film by sponsoring a number of Buried events around the world. Most recently, 200 lighters were given out at the premiere in New York City, branded with the spiraling design from the film's marketing material (and one autographed by Reynolds was even added to the Zippo Museum collection).

The company has created half a dozen designs for various regions where the film is being released, as well as an edition created for the cast and crew, distributed at the wrap party last August. For Spain and Italy, the word "Buried" is written in Spanish and Italian below the film's title.

Zippo is no stranger to the big screen. Grandy estimates that the iconic lighter has appeared in some 1,200 films, and he adds with pride that a Zippo appeared in every one of the films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 2006. But besides the significant role the lighter plays in Buried, the fact that the film is also a great fit for the company's core customers makes the promotional tie-in a no-brainer.

"Our target audience is males 18 to 24, so it's a fairly young demo, and that group is certainly moviegoers who would go see Buried," says Grandy.

Reprinted from from the October 2010 Promotion Connection Newsletter at