Caribou Coffee Promo, Case study CHOCOLATE PRESS RELEASE

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Industry Coffee, Tea, Breakfast Drinks, Retail, Distribution & Rental companies
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Released July 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Retail and E-commerce, including Restaurants
Product/Service: COFFEE CHAIN
Executive Creative Director: Mike Caguin (Colle +Mcvoy)
Group Creative Director: Eric Husband (Colle +Mcvoy)
Design Director: Ed Bennett (Colle +Mcvoy)
Art Director: Derek Till (Colle +Mcvoy)
Designer: Joe Monnens (Colle +Mcvoy)
Senior Copywriter: Joel Stacy (Colle +Mcvoy)
Writer: Emily Kaiden (Colle +Mcvoy)
Media placement: Press Kit - by mail - February 2010

Summary of the Campaign
It’s a classic case of the underdog. America’s number two retail coffee chain pitted against number one, with the odds stacked against it. That’s just how Minnesota-based Caribou Coffee was feeling as it began planning for 2009. Its Seattle-based competition is more than fifty times its size, and arguably one of the most recognizable brands in America. In late fall 2009 Caribou Coffee announced that it was reformulating all of its chocolate beverages. The new beverage suite consists of real gourmet chocolate pieces from famed Guittard Chocolate Co. melted into the beverages. While all the major coffeehouse chains use syrups or processed powders to flavour their drinks, Caribou Coffee was the first retailer of its kind to switch to real, all-natural chocolate. We were charged with bringing this new innovation to consumers and media to create buzz and drive sales. Strategic media relations outreach leveraged eye-catching assets such as beautiful food photography, exclusive b-roll footage and an edible press release made of gourmet chocolate to catch media’s attention. Coverage resulted in 21 million media impressions, more than double the goal, and a 12 percent increase in sales in one week.

The Goal
1) Generate awareness of Caribou Coffee’s new chocolate offering: - Goal of 10 million earned media impressions. 2) Increase sales of chocolate drinks from 2008: - Measured via sales data - The team conducted a competitive analysis to define media and influencers who should be targeted and a survey to determine audience segments and messaging. 3) Research identified categories of media audiences to serve as gateways to the core consumer: - Bloggers: Food and beverage; coffee-focused. - Traditional media: Key Caribou markets, Food and beverage sections of print, online, broadcast. - Trade media: Food and beverage; Advertising, marketing, design and public relations.

All objectives were exceeded. - Sales for chocolate drinks increased 12 percent in the first week of launch compared to the same time period in 2008. - Mocha sales saw particular growth, moving from 8,000 units sold on a typical Monday to 29,000 sold on the first day of launch. - Earned media placements contained key product information including flavours and price and drove readers/listeners to - Nearly 21 million total media impressions were achieved, more than 200 percent of the goal. - Newspaper coverage in all 13 of Caribou’s key markets, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Des Moines Register, Cincinnati Enquirer and Cleveland Plain Dealer. - Coverage in key trade media included articles in Nation’s Restaurant News, Fast Casual and Advertising Age.

The team implemented the programme to reach target media and consumers and coordinated all components to create the most buzz during the first week of launch in mid-November. Key tactics included: - Custom media kits, including the first-ever chocolate press release, made with premium Guittard chocolate and distributed to print and broadcast outlets in key Caribou markets. - B-roll package showing chocolate drinks being handcrafted in-store and sound bites from the Caribou Coffee product development manager. - Electronic media kits to provide editors with information and photography with one simple click. - Product samples to influential food bloggers. - Proactive messaging to Caribou’s social network fan base through Twitter and Facebook.

The Situation
It’s a classic underdog story. America’s number 2 coffee chain pitted against number 1. That’s just how Minnesota-based Caribou Coffee felt as it began planning for 2009. And while the goal was never to defeat the giant, Caribou Coffee set out to gain share one cup at a time. In late 2009, Caribou Coffee announced a reformulation all of its chocolate beverages to feature real Guittard Chocolate instead of the synthetic syrups and powders used by all major coffeehouse chains. Caribou Coffee’s agency teams were charged with bringing this new innovation to consumers to create buzz and drive sales through public relations.

The Strategy
Research proved business and trade media would be interested from an innovation angle, but the findings also showed that Caribou’s hyper-engaged consumers can generate buzz online via blogs and social networks. Specifically, we learned: - Target consumers are emotionally connected to their coffee shop. - They want it to have a premium image because they reward themselves there. - They see their coffee shop as a place to learn and try new things. • Caribou customers are 'engaged super users' who make loyal purchases and are verbal about their coffeehouse experiences. These insights guided the creation of a plan that would increase awareness of Caribou Coffee and drive purchases through the following strategies: 1) Earn positive media coverage for Caribou Coffee via aggressive news outreach in consumer and trade media. 2) Leverage product differentiations and new products news to inspire influencers to create positive conversations about Caribou Coffee offerings.