Marketing Campaign Case Studies

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


At the beginning of the twenty-first century Brigham’s, Inc., well known in New England for its ice cream and restaurants, looked to expand its product line to include the kinds of chunky ice cream flavors (with products such as candy bars mixed in) made popular by Ben & Jerry’s. The first attempt was a flavor called ‘‘The Big Dig,’’ but three years passed before the company was ready for a second launch. In 2003, as part of a 90th-anniversary promotion, Brigham’s sponsored a contest to name a new flavor. The winning entry, revealed in April 2004, was ‘‘Reverse the Curse.’’ The name was a reference to the supposed curse on the Boston Red Sox baseball team, which had not won the World Series since trading the legendary Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. The campaign to introduce the new flavor operated on a modest $250,000 budget and ran from April through late October 2004. It consisted of radio spots announced by a Red Sox player, print ads, a billboard, and in-store posters. The crux of the campaign, however, was a series of promotional events, which garnered a great deal of free media because the New England region that year was fascinated more than ever by the exploits of the Red Sox and anything associated with the club. To the delight of Brigham’s, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, and the curse was lifted. The ice cream was then renamed ‘‘Curse Reversed.’’ As a result of good fortune and strong marketing work, which was recognized by the dairy industry, Reverse the Curse became Brigham’s most successful product launch.

Brigham’s was a well-entrenched New England brand at the start of the twenty-first century. The company was known both for its chain of restaurants, which had served Brigham’s-brand ice cream for decades, and for its premium supermarket ice cream, which debuted in 1983. At its peak in the mid-1980s Brigham’s operated more than 100 restaurants, but prepacked supermarket ice cream increasingly became its main source of revenue. In addition, the E ´ lan brand of frozen yogurt was acquired to bring the company in line with the tastes of modern consumers. More importantly, Roger Theriault, appointed CEO of Brigham’s in the mid-1990s, was able to complete the turnaround and transform the company from one that was merely holding its own into one that was actually profitable.
Brigham’s best-selling flavor of ice cream—and one that was very much a New England tradition—was vanilla; it accounted for about one-third of all sales. While Brigham’s Vanilla Ice Cream remained a favorite, the marketplace since the mid-1980s had seen an influx of ice creams that came in flavors with unusual ingredients mixed in, a trend that was first popularized by the Vermont-based company Ben & Jerry’s. To stay current Brigham’s introduced Big Dig, a vanilla ice cream with brownie pieces, caramel swirls, and chocolate chunks mixed in; the name played on the nickname of Boston’s long-term Central Artery highway project. The flavor enjoyed a successful launch, but Brigham’s did not follow up with any new flavors, instead turning its attention to ice cream bars and the expansion of its geographic reach.
In fall 2003 the company was approaching its 90th birthday, and it commemorated the occasion by holding a contest to concoct and name a new ice cream flavor. A large number of entries paid tribute to the Boston Red Sox, New England’s highly popular Major League Baseball team. It was also no surprise that many of these names referred to the legendary ‘‘Curse of the Bambino’’ that supposedly afflicted the Red Sox; the team had not won a World Series championship since 1918, when, as a star pitcher and part-time slugger, Babe Ruth (George Herman Ruth, also referred to as ‘‘the Bambino’’) played a prominent role. Strapped for cash, the team sold the Babe to the New York Yankees in the winter of 1919. Ruth gave up pitching except for a rare mound appearance and proceeded to revolutionize the sport as a homerun hitter and its biggest star. While the Red Sox lapsed into mediocrity, the Yankees, which before adding Ruth had played second fiddle to the New York Giants, became the dominant team in baseball for the rest of the century. To explain their team’s fall from grace, Red Sox fans created the myth that the Boston team was cursed because of the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and many nourished a comforting sense of fatalism even as they cheered on their team. More than one entry to the Brigham’s contest offered the name ‘‘Reverse the Curse.’’ The company selected the best of the accompanying recipes: Brigham’s vanilla ice cream mixed with chocolatecovered peanuts (representing baseballs), caramel cups (representing bases), and swirls of Brigham’s popular fudge sauce. The selection was made in secret, and only those with a need to know were told, while a marketing campaign to launch the new flavor was developed.

Brigham’s traditional target audience was mothers aged 24 to 54, because they were the people who did most of the grocery shopping and were likely to make the decision to purchase a Brigham’s product. For the ‘‘Reverse the Curse’’ campaign the focus was broadened to include adults in general, although a baseball promotion was sure to attract the attention of children as well. Baseball in New England was followed by a wide range of people, from celebrities such as author Stephen King and actor Matt Damon to firemen and nurses. The ad agency aimed the campaign at a broad audience. The billboard that Brigham’s rented near Fenway Park (the home ballpark of the Red Sox) off the Massachusetts Turnpike was seen by all demographics, and the radio spots were played on eight stations, each with a different format that appealed to every type of listener, from classical music to sports-talk radio. Brigham’s was ultimately looking to reach anybody who liked ice cream, a market that cut across all demographics.

As a premium brand that cost more than most ice creams, Brigham’s faced direct competition from Ben & Jerry’s and Breyers, but after 90 years in business it was well entrenched in its market. Brigham’s did not directly compete with another venerable New England brand, Hood, which concentrated on selling high volumes of less-expensive ice cream. Brigham’s did, however, see Hood as an impediment to forging a link with the Red Sox. Hood had a long-standing relationship with the team, including some ownership ties. Hood was the only ice cream sold at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox played home games, and Brigham’s was prevented from advertising on the park’s huge message board. Brigham’s was not even allowed to offer samples within the severalblock pedestrian zone that surrounded the ballpark. Nevertheless, by introducing Reverse the Curse, conducting baseball-related promotions, leasing a highway billboard outside Fenway Park, and hiring one of the Red Sox players to serve as the spokesperson, Brigham’s was able to outflank Hood to reach the Red Sox audience. While the Brigham’s campaign could have been interpreted as a direct challenge to Hood, according to Brigham’s vice president of marketing, Darryln Leikauskas, the ‘‘Reverse the Curse’’ campaign took little note of the competition. ‘‘It wasn’t about them, it was about us,’’ she said in a 2006 interview.

The Boston Red Sox owner who sold baseball star Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1919, thereby earning the eternal enmity of Boston fans, was theatrical agent Harry Frazee, best known for backing the musical No, No, Nanette (1925). He supposedly sold off his star players to cover his theatrical losses.

An initial goal of the ‘‘Reverse the Curse’’ campaign was to build up interest by keeping the new flavor a secret until the campaign was launched in April 2004 with the start of the baseball season. While manufacturing plans were made to produce ‘‘Reverse the Curse,’’ Leikauskas told only a handful of people about the contest winner. Because packaging had to be ordered in January, Brigham’s had to share the secret with a Maryland vendor, but no one that far way was interested in leaking the news. Brigham’s sent samples (using generic packaging) to a variety of New England–affiliated sports and entertainment celebrities, asking for their comments in exchange for a cash donation to their favorite charity. They included actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, comedians Jay Leno and Denis Leary, football player Doug Flutie, and basketball player Dave Cowens. The campaign also included print ads in yearbooks produced by minor league teams in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Because of production deadlines, ads had to be supplied before the announcement of the new flavor. For the first editions, therefore, the ad depicted a group of the company’s ‘‘all-star’’ flavors. A blank silhouette where Reverse the Curse was to be located offered the caption ‘‘Future Hall-of-Famer.’’ The campaign elements included radio spots, print ads, a billboard, in-store posters, and promotional events. Given the limited budget of $250,000, the campaign relied heavily on the promotional events, which garnered free attention from newspapers and television. The campaign kicked off in April 2004, shortly after the start of the new baseball season. Shipments of the product were timed to begin April 27, the anniversary of Babe Ruth Day, when, in 1947, Ruth was celebrated in every baseball park in the United States and Japan. To play further on the Babe Ruth curse, Brigham’s conducted another event on May 13, making the case that ritualists often attempted to break curses on the unlucky 13th. A pair of psychic advisers who several months earlier had performed a ceremony at Fenway Park to undo the curse were enlisted to do the same at the Brigham’s ice cream plant. A public rally was held the same day at a Brigham’s Restaurant in Arlington, Massachusetts, at which a Babe Ruth impersonator appeared and offered attendees the first complimentary samples of Reverse the Curse. Next, Brigham’s held a contest that was launched on a popular morning radio show: die-hard Red Sox fans were asked to send E-mails describing what they were willing to do to help the team break the curse. The winner was a young woman, a strict vegetarian, who offered for the sake of the team to eat 86 hot dogs, representing the number of years since Boston’s last World Series triumph. She fulfilled her pledge on the afternoon of September 26, before a critical game against the Yankees at end of the season. (She was ultimately helped by family, friends, and other supporters in eating the hot dogs.) During the baseball postseason Brigham’s also hosted an elementary-school rally in Dedham, Massachusetts, which included a surprise Reverse the Curse ice cream party, an event that received a good deal of local media attention.
For the advertising portion of the campaign Brigham’s hired Boston-area Rattle Advertising. Elements included in-store signage and radio, print, and outdoor advertisements. The biggest commitment was to radio, which also included the largest expense of the campaign: hiring a Red Sox player to serve as a spokesperson. Because of the small budget Brigham’s settled on one of the team’s support players, first baseman Kevin Millar, who was nevertheless very popular with fans. He recorded a 60-second spot that was also edited into a 10-second version. It played during June, July, and August on eight area stations that offered a wide variety of formats; for instance, WMJX played soft rock, WBMX offered contemporary hits, and WCRB was a classical music station. The station that received the most ad dollars, however, was WEEI, a sports-talk radio station. In addition Millar made some promotional appearances. Print ads were limited to the yearbooks of the two minor league teams that Brigham’s had already been sponsoring. An ad also appeared on the back of a widely distributed summer guide of local events as well as within the pages of programs for the concert series at the Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts in Boston and other entertainment events. The headline of the ads read, ‘‘The Ice Cream of the Eternal Optimist.’’ The lone billboard of the campaign was leased for the month of June. In stores Brigham’s hung posters touting Reverse the Curse and featuring a nostalgic baseball scene.

With the Red Sox trailing the New York Yankees three games to zero in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series of 2004, it appeared that Boston fans would have to suffer with their curse for yet another season. Then, in a dramatic reversal of fortune, the team rebounded to win four straight games and vanquish its hated rivals; it was the first time in baseball history that a team had recovered from such a deficit. The Red Sox then won the World Series, ending the so-called curse. From the start of the ‘‘Reverse the Curse’’ campaign, Brigham’s had promised to change the name of the ice cream when the curse was lifted. It now hastily put together another contest to rename the flavor. In the meantime large stickers were applied to the in-store posters, proclaiming ‘‘Curse Reversed.’’ It also became the eventual winner, saving the company some money on redoing the signage.
In large part because of the Red Sox’s dream season, Reverse the Curse became the best product launch in Brigham’s history. For the year it ranked number five in package sales for the company, representing 6 percent of all Brigham’s sales, despite being available for less than the entire year. The Big Dig, in contrast, ranked number eight during its first full year, with 4.4 percent of sales. There was no doubt that the team’s success fed into the success of the ice cream, but the marketing campaign behind the product was also an important element. The work was recognized by the International Dairy Foods Association, which presented Brigham’s with a pair of awards: Best Overall Public Relations Campaign for the entire 90th-anniversary effort and Best Overall Mixed Media Campaign for ‘‘Reverse the Curse’’ in particular.


In the late 1990s Colorado-based Boston Chicken Inc. was one of the leaders in the burgeoning restaurant category of home meal replacement, or HMR. The term home meal replacement applied to restaurant-style food for taking home, including, of course, such traditional take-out options as pizza and burgers and fries. But many Americans began to draw the line at having that kind of meal too often. Consequently, a market emerged for more thoroughly prepared and nutritionally beneficent ‘‘comfort foods.’’
Boston Chicken, Inc. began franchising and operating retail food service stores under the brand name Boston Market. The restaurants, located in 38 states, offered home meal replacement in the form of comfort foods, which included rotisserie-roasted chicken, roast turkey, baked ham, and meat loaf, as well as fresh vegetables, salads, and other side dishes. By mid-1998 there were 1,149 Boston Market stores in 38 states and the District of Columbia, of which 936 were company owned. Boston Chicken also owned a majority interest in Einstein/Noah Bagel Corp., and its subsidiary company, Progressive Food Concepts, marketed a line of prepared foods via supermarkets.
Boston Market made its name in the home meal replacement category by offering dinner entrees. In January 1996, however, it expanded its line to attract the lunch crowd. It introduced a line of ‘‘Carver’’ sandwiches containing ham, turkey, or meat loaf. The next year saw the rollout of the Extreme Carver, a larger sandwich containing bacon and cheese in addition to meat. The marketing campaign for the Extreme Carver was accompanied by a coupon offer granting 20 or 25 percent off the new sandwiches. A series of television commercials was created by the Santa Monica, California, ad agency Suissa Miller. The new spots parodied commercials for other products, specifically the spare, artsy ads for Calvin Klein designer fragrances. Filmed in black and white, the spots starred the sardonic ESPN sports anchor Keith Olbermann (who appeared in color for comic effect). They were designed to capitalize on the sports maven’s appeal among 18- to 29-year-old men, one of the key target markets for Extreme Carver sandwiches.

Boston Chicken was founded in 1988 by entrepreneur George Naddaff, one of the first men to see the potential of the burgeoning home food replacement industry. Brought up in Boston’s South End by parents who emigrated from Lebanon, Naddaff was shining shoes at age 10 and went through the auto shop course at Brighton High School before learning that he was allergic to grease. He switched his career interests to sales, starting out peddling baby furniture to expectant parents in their homes and using leads provided by the manufacturer. Naddaff began his franchising career in 1967, when he bought a regional franchise for Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken, opening 22 shops before selling the business in 1970. Having learned the fundamentals of business, he teamed with an early-childhood education specialist, Grace Mitchell, to start Living and Learning Centres Inc., a chain of child-care centers that grew to 48 locations in 10 years. They sold the chain in 1980 to Kinder-Care Learning Centers Inc. By that time Naddaff was involved with the start-up of VR Business Brokers Inc., which franchised local brokerages that listed small businesses for sale. Naddaff took the company public and sold 250 franchises, then sold the entire operation to a British group in 1987. The following year he used his venture capital connections to launch Boston Chicken, one of the first of the so-called home meal replacement franchises.
A spate of studies in the late 1990s confirmed that the home meal replacement trend that Naddaff foresaw was no fad. Consumers opted for a takeout dinner at home 61 percent more often than they did in the late 1980s, whereas they chose to eat dinner in a restaurant 4 percent less often, according to a 1995 NPD Group survey. ‘‘Time poverty’’ was the catalyst, and the underpinnings of the take-home trend seemed unlikely to change. In double-income families neither income earner had the time, energy, or desire to cook (or clean up after a meal). And while burger and pizza chains once satisfied Americans’ need for carryout, fast-food ennui set in. Customers were seeking ever-changing variety and freshness for dinner.
Naddaff served as chairman and CEO of Boston Chicken from 1988 to 1992, when he sold the company to a group of executives from Blockbuster Entertainment. By 1996 the company had expanded to more than 1,000 stores across 38 states and was spending $90 million a year on advertising. Under a so-called ‘‘virtual advertising plan,’’ the chain divided its creative work among three agencies, each commissioned to devise a campaign for individual Boston Market products. Suissa Miller was charged specifically with handling the ads for the Boston Carver sandwich line.
Suissa Miller’s 1996 ad campaign ‘‘Don’t Mess with Dinner’’ featured ordinary looking consumers searching for ways to feed their families home-cooked dinners with a minimum of fuss. In 1997, in order to target a more youthful crowd of sandwich enthusiasts, the company used wan models to spoof a popular series of Calvin Klein fragrance commercials. The campaign, called ‘‘Eat Something,’’ proved successful in audience tests and with the targeted audience. ‘‘Don’t Mess with Dinner’’ spots remained in use to promote the brand’s line of Family Meals, but they increasingly took on the mocking tone of the ‘‘Eat Something’’ campaign. One such spot spoofed super hero television shows and movies. The commercial, called ‘‘Searchlight,’’ features a harried mother trying to decide the best way to feed her family. She solves her problem only by flashing the giant image of a chicken into the night sky—much like Batman’s ‘‘Bat Signal.’’ Across town her husband picks up the signal and knows he must pick up Boston Market food for dinner.

In general, Boston Market aimed to capture the business of time-pressed and cooking-shy consumers (many of whom had discretionary income to burn) who craved freshly prepared take-home meals that were a step up from traditional fast food. These consumers wanted the fruits of a chef’s labor, but they wanted it without a wait. And they wanted to enjoy it in their own home. With its line of Extreme Carver lunch sandwiches, introduced in 1997, Boston Market was specifically targeting young adult males, the most avid consumers of fast food. The accompanying ad campaign ‘‘Eat Something’’ was designed to appeal to this more cynical ‘‘Generation X’’ demographic through parody and the appearance of smart-aleck ESPN sports anchor Olbermann, who hosted the nightly Sportscenter sports highlight show.

Boston Market in the late 1990s was one of the few restaurant chains catering to the home food replacement market. But that did not mean there was not vigorous competition to service harried consumers looking for home-cooked meals. Supermarkets were rushing in with expanded delis, packaged meals, rotisserie chicken, and sushi bars, blurring the lines separating fast-food emporiums, restaurants, and grocery stores. Feeding the trend further were specialty groceries and delis offering such items as tea-smoked duck, grilled portobello mushroom sandwiches on focaccia, and herb-roasted beef tenderloin with aioli.
Because many consumers wanted foods that they would cook themselves if they had the time, Boston Market’s menu leaned heavily toward American comfort foods. But many industry observers expected the home meal replacement market to take a turn for the ethnic and adventurous in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
Newer home meal replacement players wanted to go beyond Boston Market-style carryout in hopes of stealing more grocery sales from supermarkets. Joining the category in Dallas was Eatzi’s Market and Bakery, an 8,000-square-foot establishment that was a cross between a gourmet grocery store and take-home deli/restaurant. The Eatzi’s experiment has attracted plenty of customers and attention.

Boston Market’s ‘‘Eat Something’’ spots were part of a trend toward parody advertising that gained steam in the mid-1990s. Commercials such as Sprite’s ‘‘Obey Your Thirst’’ drew their comic force from mocking the pomposity of other, more serious ads, usually for unrelated and noncompetitive products. These commercials attempted to place the mocking company or brand on the other side of the media ‘‘wall,’’ commenting on the pretensions of advertising. They were primarily aimed at hip, young consumers who may have felt jaded or too media savvy to be fooled by commercials that erect a farcical image or pitch a product’s miraculous effects. In the case of the ‘‘Eat Something’’ spots, the commercials poke fun at the pomposity of designer fragrance campaigns.
The first spot in this Boston Market campaign, ‘‘Eat Something,’’ was filmed in black and white by director John Mastromonaco. The 30-second piece features stringy-haired, emaciated-looking young models affecting bored, vacant stares along a rocky shoreline. ‘‘Emptiness, emptiness,’’ moans one such waif. ‘‘How can I fill this void of emptiness?’’ Emerging from out of nowhere, sports anchor Olbermann (who appears in full color) offers one possible answer: ‘‘Eat something!’’ What is the ‘‘burning from within’’ that the world-weary models feel? ‘‘It’s called hunger,’’ Olbermann quips. He then suggests that the models fatten up on the Extreme Carver sandwich, with its ‘‘ooey gooey’’ cheese sauce. In another ‘‘Eat Something’’ commercial, entitled ‘‘Angst Band,’’ a grunge rock band is shown rehearsing one of its downbeat songs. ‘‘I feel empty, nothing inside,’’ the singer keens. Olbermann then enters, advising:
‘‘Hey Mozart, eat something!’’ Additional spots in this campaign spoof daytime soap operas and the relationship between professional athletes and their agents. All the spots rely on the element of surprise to turn consumer expectations upside down, while at the same time skewering the overly thin look that was prevalent among models.
The strategy was based on the premise that consumers tended to tune out straightforward advertising messages in an age of media overload. ‘‘Humorously portraying universally recognized cultural icons is an effective way to break through the intense media clutter in today’s marketplace,’’ said Bill McDonald, Boston Market’s chief marketing officer. ‘‘Consumers relate to our having some fun with common images from popular culture.’’ Having a laugh at other advertisers’ expense was not, however, the only goal of the ads. Added McDonald: ‘‘Our new advertisements are humorous, but also deliver an important message to consumers that Boston Market stores offer quick, quality meal solutions for a variety of occasions.’’ Trey Hall, Boston Market’s vice president of marketing, stressed the importance of the ads in positioning Boston Market products as fun and enjoyable.

Dinner patterns in America have changed rapidly. In the late 1990s people felt they had less and less time, and it seemed they did not want to spend lots of it making (or even planning for) dinner. As a result, many meals eaten at home were bought somewhere else, and food industry gurus have termed this practice ‘‘home meal replacement,’’ or HMR. Not surprisingly, a whole litany of attendant marketing terms and acronyms began to spring up and have been flung across restaurant industry conference tables nationwide. They include: ‘‘Access Mode’’ (the way a consumer chooses to use a restaurant—dining in, delivery, takeout, and drive-through are access modes);
‘‘Center-of-the-Plate Protein’’ (the food portion that generally defines what is being eaten—mostly meat and poultry); ‘‘Daypart’’ (most consumers call this ‘‘lunch’’ if it occurs around noon, but the industry prefers calling it ‘‘afternoon daypart’’); ‘‘QSR’’ (or quickservice restaurant, better known as a fast-food establishment); ‘‘HFFU’’ (pronounced hoofoo, the acronym stands for ‘‘heavy fast-food user,’’ which tended to be young and male); and ‘‘Share of Stomach’’ (the ultimate goal of restaurant industry operators, this signified the portion of foods from restaurants and supermarkets that occupied a consumer’s stomach).

Boston Market’s ‘‘Eat Something’’ commercials proved fairly popular with consumers but were judged not to be very effective. A USA Today poll found that just over 25 percent of those polled liked the spots a lot. Only 14 percent deemed them ‘‘effective.’’ The ‘‘Eat Something’’ commercials did prove to be highly effective at sticking in the minds of consumers, however; audience testing elicited recall in 95 percent of viewers who saw the spots. Popularity was slightly higher among Boston Market’s targeted group of consumers, males between 18 and 29 years old; 31 percent of those in this age range polled by USA Today reported they liked the ads a lot, compared with 26 percent among 30- to 49-year-old consumers. Among industry observers and insiders, the spots were given credit for their humor but were generally faulted on strategic grounds. Writing in Advertising Age magazine, columnist Bob Garfield conceded the ads were very funny. ‘‘Not since Marshall McLuhan popped out of the movie line in Annie Hall to deflate the academic blowhard has there been a more welcome intrusion into our suspension of disbelief,’’ Garfield opined. He also found the casting of Olbermann inspired. Garfield, however, criticized the strategy behind the ads, calling ‘‘Eat Something’’ ‘‘a very good commercial for a very bad marketing idea.’’ ‘‘Boston Market has neither the number nor the character of locations to compete with the sandwich slingers of the world,’’ Garfield groused. ‘‘So why, for the sake of whatever marginal growth they might enjoy by attracting a few hungry teenagers, dilute the brand meaning, brand message, and media budget?’’ Competitors in the fast-food sector were no more kind. Scott Lippitt, an account manager at fast-food giant Arby’s, cast doubt on the idea of spoofing products outside the comfort food category. ‘‘What point is Boston Market trying to make,’’ Lippitt complained to Shoot magazine, ‘‘other than saying, ‘We’re relevant to this younger target [market]?’ The last time I looked, people weren’t deciding to make a choice between spending money on eating at Boston Market or buying perfume.’’


In August 1998, after a two-month review, the Boston Beer Company, Inc. replaced its longtime ad agency, Carmichael Lynch, with Interpublic Group’s McCann-Erickson. The New York-based agency’s first work for the Samuel Adams Boston Lager brand retained the aspirational thrust of the final campaign from Carmichael Lynch but adopted a more straightforward approach that defined both the beer and its consumers. The resulting campaign, ‘‘It’s What’s Inside,’’ was introduced later in the year and included both television and radio spots. Cofounder and CEO James Koch expressed confidence in the new tag line, which appeared to be borne out by the brand’s performance in 1998.

Koch, who owned 27 percent of the Boston Beer Company, emerged from a long family line of brewers. His great-great-grandfather Louis once owned a brewery in St. Louis that operated in the shadow of Anheuser-Busch. His father, Charles Joseph, Jr., worked as a brewmaster at several breweries in Cincinnati. Koch himself gave up a promising career in business to pursue the family dream of owning and operating his own brewery. At the time, in the early 1980s, Americans’ taste in mass-marketed beers had drifted toward light, pale brews like Budweiser. Koch proposed to buck the tide by marketing a more full-bodied lager made of choice ingredients, a connoisseur’s beer brewed in the Old World tradition.
Koch founded the Boston Beer Company in 1984, raising $400,000 from friends and business associates and exhausting his personal savings of $100,000. For his recipe Koch retrieved his great-great-grandfather’s old beer formula from his father’s attic in Cincinnati. For the label of his flagship brand, Koch chose to honor Samuel Adams, the American Revolutionary hero who had once worked as a soaker and drier of barley (not a ‘‘brewer,’’ as stated on the label).
The early days of the Boston Beer Company were difficult ones. Many Boston-area distributors doubted that consumers would pay $6 per six-pack for an American beer. And so Koch and his ‘‘sales staff’’ (consisting in its entirety of Koch’s former secretary Rhonda Kallman), traveled from tavern to tavern hawking Samuel Adams in person. Koch also entered his beer in the Great American Beer Festival and won the consumer preference poll. He built his early advertising campaign around the award, saturating newspapers and radio waves with the tag line ‘‘The Best Beer in America.’’ The ads stressed the idea that Samuel Adams beer was brewed in small batches by Yankee craftsmen. ‘‘I’d had no idea whether we’d find 100 customers or a million,’’ Koch declared.
‘‘I hoped to sell 5,000 barrels in five years, but we got to that goal in four months.’’
Once the company had posted those kinds of numbers, larger distributors began to show an interest. Samuel Adams beer became one of the first American specialty brews in decades to become a nationally distributed product. Annual sales of the Boston Beer Company grew at a 57 percent clip a year in the early 1990s. In 1996, 12 years after its launch, the company made $8.3 million in profits on sales of $214 million. It was thus that the Boston Beer Company rose from obscurity to become one of America’s leading craft brewers. The company eventually produced about 20 seasonal and year-round varieties of craft-brewed beers at its Boston and Cincinnati breweries, as well as through contracts with five others breweries across the United States. Each year nationwide it sold nearly 1.2 million barrels of lager (such as its flagship Samuel Adams Boston Lager), ales (in Oregon Original and Samuel Adams brands), and cider (Hard Core brand), and its brews were also distributed internationally. In the mid-1990s, however, the market for craft brews began to slacken. Some analysts credited the slide to aggressive line and product extensions by companies like Boston Beer. Increased competition from the massmarket brewers, who marketed their own ‘‘craft brew’’ brands under names like Red Dog and Icehouse, also helped slow the growth of the segment. By this time even the best-known of the craft brews, Samuel Adams, had become a victim of diminishing investor expectations. Boston Beer’s stock fell from a high of $32.50 in November 1995 to less than $10 in April 1998. The Samuel Adams advertising tag line, ‘‘All in due time,’’ which attempted to equate the consumers and the beer, was criticized for being confusing. ‘‘We swung for the fences, and we missed,’’ said one executive who worked on the campaign.
Koch initially laughed off some of the company’s advertising miscues, saying, ‘‘If you brew a bad batch, you can drink your mistakes. In advertising, you suck it up in another way.’’ In June 1998, however, after sales had continued to decline, Boston Beer initiated a twomonth review of its advertising with the aim of replacing its longtime ad agency, Minneapolis-based Carmichael Lynch. New York’s McCann-Erickson and Boston’s Hill, Holliday, Connors, and Cosmopulos emerged as finalists in the competition, with McCann-Erickson named the winner of the estimated $12-$15 million account in August. The ad shop’s first campaign for Samuel Adams lager, using the tag line ‘‘It’s What’s Inside,’’ was unveiled in the autumn of 1998.

The principal target market for Samuel Adams lager was young males. Beer industry research showed that 20 percent of American beer drinkers consumed about 80 percent of the beer produced domestically. Most of this 20 percent was composed of males aged 21 to 40. Craft beers like Samuel Adams were specifically targeted at a particular segment of this market, identified as ‘‘premium packaged lager trial lists.’’ These consumers tried different brands but were not loyal to any particular one. Studies indicated that they made up about 12 percent of premium-packaged lager drinkers and accounted for 20 percent of volume. They were consumers who liked to keep up with the latest fashions in beer drinking and who believed that what they drank said a lot about them. Boston Beer Company marketers also enjoyed success in the late 1990s at marketing their beer to women. In 1999 Samuel Adams became one of the first major beers to advertise during the television coverage of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. An ad aired during the telecasts of the final-four games represented a ‘‘major breakthrough’’ in beer advertising, according to Bill Greer, director of media services at Mintz and Hoke advertising. And although Samuel Adams had a completely different profile than Budweiser or Miller, he said that the ad suggested that advertisers recognized that not only women watched women’s basketball. ‘‘I think it’s an evolutionary thing,’’ Greer said. ‘‘And next year, it may be a revolution.’’

In 1998 players in the tiny but influential craft beer market all drafted campaigns calling for new images, new promotions, and new market focuses. They did so in response to the overcrowding of the segment with an attendant sales slump. ‘‘The differentiation game has begun in earnest,’’ declared Jerome Chicvara, marketing director for Full Sail Brewing Company. According to the Institute for Beer Studies, as of 1998 there were about 1,250 small brewers in the United States, up 14 percent from 1996. Craft brewers, however, faced significant challenges in promoting their brands because they lacked the huge marketing budgets of the major brewers. Boston Beer Company, for example, spent a meager $6.1 million on advertising in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting. The number two player in the craft brew segment, Pete’s Brewing Company, embarked upon a major marketing makeover in 1998. Past ads had trumpeted Pete’s brands as party beers without touting their quality. The brewer suffered an $8.9 million operating loss through the third quarter of 1997, however, prompting it to halt all consumer advertising and reevaluate its approach. In 1998 Pete’s opted to escalate its use of public relations, introduce a golden ale, and eliminate weaker beers from its portfolio.
Full Sail Brewing Company opted for a different tack to set it apart from the competition. The West Coast specialty brewer used its 1998 ads to hammer home the message that Full Sail brews were full-bodied ‘‘big beers.’’ The company spent an estimated $100,000 on print advertising for 1998, a fourfold increase over the previous year.
A third major Boston Beer competitor, Pyramid Ales, introduced its first concerted consumer ad effort in 1998, after years of focusing on trade publications. The brewer launched a $250,000 campaign in the San Francisco and other key West Coast markets. ‘‘We’re reacting to the fact that the market is so overcrowded that [trade] marketing strategies are canceling each other out,’’ said CEO George Hancock.
While Pyramid was expanding its advertising effort, the Maryland-based Frederick Brewing Company was pulling back and trying to use money more wisely after launching its first consumer campaign in 1997. During 1998 Frederick Brewing opted to focus its ad efforts on its brands’ core markets in and around the District of Columbia. It earlier had run a far-flung campaign that reached into weaker markets such as Atlanta. ‘‘We’re taking advertising to markets where we have the distribution to warrant it,’’ said CEO Marjorie A. McGinnis.

The ability of craft brewers like the Boston Beer Company to put a dent in the sales of the major massmarket brewers did not go unnoticed in the halls of Anheuser-Busch. Over the years the giant St. Louisbased brewer had tried to persuade wholesalers, who were often dependent on Budweiser sales, to stop selling specialty brews. The company also challenged Boston Beer’s trademark for its Winter Lager just before the statute of limitations had expired. But perhaps Anheuser-Busch’s most concerted assault came in the summer of 1996, when America’s number one brewer filed a complaint with the government arguing that Samuel Adams’s labels were misleading. Boston Beer was a contract brewer, which meant that it hired bigger companies to help make its beer, but its labels noted only that the beer was ‘‘Brewed by Boston Beer Company, Boston, MA, and Under Special Agreement, Pittsburgh, PA.’’ (The second city was the location of the contract brewer.) Undaunted, Boston Beer’s CEO, Jim Koch, defended his policy of not mentioning the contract brewer by name, insisting that to do so would give consumers the impression that Samuel Adams beer made, for example, at a Stroh’s brewery was a Stroh’s product. To which Francine Katz, an Anheuser-Busch vice president, countered, ‘‘How can you logically argue against a labeling standard that simply requires honesty?’’ Perhaps recognizing the logic of Katz’s argument, Lucy Shaum, a spokesman for Boston Beer, conceded to an interviewer for Beer and Beverage Monthly, ‘‘Sure, we’re jerking people’s chains, but that’s what advertising is all about, isn’t it?’’ While most consumers remained oblivious to the labeling flap, the controversy did, nevertheless, cost Koch’s company. After an NBC news program broadcast a segment in October 1996 criticizing Boston Beer’s labeling, the company’s stock price fell 20 percent, the start of a protracted slide. Even so, Koch, who had about 95 percent of his net worth wrapped up in the stock, remained unbowed. ‘‘You don’t create a whole new national market in the beer business by being frightened,’’ he said. ‘‘Anheuser-Busch’s campaign just makes us the underdog again.’’

The media budget for Samuel Adams’s ‘‘It’s What’s Inside’’ campaign was split evenly between television and radio. Two 30-second ads were unveiled on national television, with three radio spots targeted to 23- to 35-yearold men. The ads fell into the category of so-called aspirational advertising, that is, ads depicting the consumers as they would like to be. In this case the ads were designed to appeal to young males’ desire to live lives of danger, adventure, and intrigue. The product, Samuel Adams lager, was then associated with these qualities and, by extension, so was the consumer. One of the best-known spots in the campaign, ‘‘Destiny,’’ opened in black and white and was shot from the interior of a car traveling along a desolate country road. ‘‘As you get closer, your eyes get wider. Your heart beats faster,’’ a male voice-over intoned over a musical backdrop. As the car rounded a curve, a big-city skyline came into view. ‘‘This is not gonna beat you. Oh, it’s loud. And it’s dirty. And it’s big. But so are your plans. Hey John Boy. You ain’t in Kansas anymore. From here on in, every day’s gonna be a test.’’ The spot then cut to a long ‘‘pour shot’’ of the amber beverage: ‘‘Those who pass deserve a great beer. Sam Adams. It’s what’s inside.’’ The tag line, ‘‘It’s what’s inside,’’ was created to refer to both the lager and the consumers who drank it, according to Koch. ‘‘The fundamental idea feels right to me. It’s about the beer and the drinker and it evokes where we came from,’’ he said. ‘‘In 1984, all we had was what was inside those bottles and we believed in our ourselves. These ads talk very much about that.’’

Led in part by the ‘‘It’s What’s Inside’’ campaign, the Boston Beer Company enjoyed success in 1998. For the year barrels sold and net sales were 1,227,000 and $183.5 million, respectively, compared to 1,352,000 and $183.8 million in 1997. The company’s gross profit margin for 1998 was 51.3 percent, up marginally from 51.0 percent in 1997. A confident Koch declared victory in his end-ofyear statement to shareholders. ‘‘Despite the turmoil in the craft segment of the beer market and a modest erosion in volume, our leading market position and aggressive programs combined to produce very satisfactory operating results in 1998,’’ he explained. ‘‘This performance continues to validate our strong business proposition.’’

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Borders Group, Inc., the second-largest American book retailer after Barnes & Noble, Inc., adjusted to a trend of dwindling mall traffic by erecting more and more superstores, which tallied 435 by 2003. Hoping to dissuade consumers from shopping for books, CDs, and videos over the Internet, Borders strove to provide at each of its stores a customer-friendly setting equipped with cafe´s, furnished with comfortable seating, and set up so that customers could preview books and music before making a purchase. In April 2003 Borders ended its relationship with the Campbell-Ewald Company, the agency that had created Borders’ ‘‘Find Out’’ campaign. Shifting away from price-oriented advertising and focusing instead on the meaningfulness of gift-giving, Borders released its ‘‘This Season, It’s the Original Thought That Counts’’ campaign for the 2003 holiday season.
Borders awarded Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s Venice, California, office its first account, estimated at $15 million, in September 2003. On November 30 Crispin Porter + Bogusky launched ‘‘This Season, It’s the Original Thought That Counts’’ across print and outdoor advertising, with all advertising displaying the campaign’s title as the tagline. The print ads, which appeared as inserts in newspapers nationwide during the weeks before Christmas, featured copy on one side that described the joys of receiving books as gifts. The insert’s other side looked and felt like holiday wrapping paper. In addition to the book-themed newspaper inserts, DVDthemed wrapping paper was placed in Rolling Stone Magazine to suggest that movies made thoughtful gifts. With the same sentiment in mind, images of CD cases appeared in the New Yorker. All inserts could be removed and used to gift wrap a regular-size book, CD, or DVD. The campaign garnered a plethora of ad-industry awards, including a Silver Pencil and a Best in Show recognition at 2004’s ATHENA Awards competition, sponsored by the Newspaper Association of America. Borders saw a 3.78 percent sales growth in 2003, with 35 percent of its sales occurring during the quarter in which the campaign ran.

Prior to Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s involvement, Borders had run a long campaign titled ‘‘Find Out,’’ launched by Campbell-Ewald in the mid-1990s and lasting until April 2003. The campaign, which borrowed from earlier work done by ad agency Perich + Partners, focused on the experience of browsing in a bookstore. During the duration of ‘‘Find Out,’’ Borders held promotional events such as book readings, author signings, lectures, and local-musician showcases. By April 2003 the campaign only appeared across print.
The company also cross-promoted with Children’s Books & Toys, Inc., the parent company of FAO Schwarz. Borders recommended and delivered its books, music, and movies to Children’s Books & Toys stores. In return the toy stores provided products for Borders and Waldenbooks, a mall-based bookstore chain owned by the Borders Group. But Borders, along with other bookselling superstores, tended to lack strong advertising outside the stores themselves. Mike Spinozzi, chief marketing officer for Borders, explained in Adweek that the company’s marketing had in the past depended largely on ‘‘competitive square footage.’’ He later referred to the approach as an ‘‘if you build it, they will come’’ model. Hoping to build the emotional content of its brand, Borders hired the Zyman Group (consultants) in March of 2003. Spinozzi told Adweek that Borders assigned Zyman the task of defining the ‘‘functional and emotional benefits of the brand.’’ A few months later Borders settled on Crispin Porter + Bogusky to handle its advertising, largely based on the quality of the agency’s advertising for IKEA and on its vision about how the Borders brand should be developed. Tim Roper, creative director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, commented to Adweek that if America’s two book-superstores were on a college campus, ‘‘Barnes & Noble would be the law library, and Borders would be the smaller, funkier, cooler place.’’ Roper, who also wrote copy for ‘‘This Season, It’s the Original Thought That Counts,’’ wanted to convey the idea that there was at least one item at Borders that was a perfect fit for everybody.

The campaign targeted holiday shoppers within all age, income, and cultural parameters. Roper explained that its goal was ‘‘to intervene in the robotic buying patterns that usually result in catch-all gifts like sweaters, toasters or stainless-steel pen sets. We’re talking to virtually anyone who aspires to give a gift that is truly meaningful and can be tailored to the individual recipients’ personality and tastes.’’ Borders hoped to connect gift-giving’s meaningfulness to the Borders brand. To facilitate this connection, the ‘‘This Season, It’s the Original Thought That Counts’’ campaign associated wrapping paper with the Borders logo. Massive retailers such as Wal-Mart and Costco could offer CDs, DVDs, and books at lower prices than Borders, which meant that Borders could not target consumers from a price orientation. ‘‘Borders has the opportunity to be a really cool brand,’’ Roper told Adweek. ‘‘They know the need for differentiation and identity. Why buy the Tom Clancy book there rather than 15 other places?’’
Borders offered consumers an informed staff and information centers that provided insight into books, CDs, and DVDs. ‘‘This is the beginning of our conversation with the consumer about the meaningfulness of content,’’ Roper continued to explain to Adweek. He later pointed out that mass merchants did not offer much insight into products similar to those sold at Borders. He also remarked that the giant retailers sold music, movies, and books almost as an afterthought.

In mid-2003 Borders became a member of Echo, a consortium working on the development of technology to regulate the licensing and retailing of digital music. Echo was founded in January 2003 by Best Buy Co., Hastings Entertainment, MTS, Incorporated (Tower Records), Trans World Entertainment Corporation, Virgin Entertainment Group, and Wherehouse Entertainment.

Changing advertising agencies regularly, Barnes & Noble, the largest U.S. bookseller, contracted more than four different agencies to run ads between 1999 and 2005. Advertising that appeared during 2003, the same year as Borders’ ‘‘This Season’’ campaign, was executed primarily in-house by Barnes & Noble. For 2002 the company spent a reported $6 million on advertising, undershooting what Borders spent the following year by $9 million. One print ad released in 2003 made the case that the company’s superior size enabled it to provide a better selection. It showed a black-and-white illustration with two stacks of books, one stack grossly larger than the other, and text that boasted, ‘‘Bigger means more, OK?’’ The primary strategy Barnes & Noble employed to bolster sales was similar to that of Borders: to merely build more superstores, some topping out at 60,000 square feet. Hoping to compete with, Barnes & Noble sold a large percentage of its website business,, to Bertelsmann AG, which owned, among other things, the publisher Random House, Inc. By 2003 Barnes & Noble was trying to regain control of its website by buying Bertelsmann’s shares.
The dilemma for both Borders and Barnes & Noble was twofold. One, as a result of waning mall traffic, both companies’ smaller bookstores—Waldenbooks belonged to Borders, and Doubleday was owned by Barnes & Noble—were losing money. Second, even though both companies recorded sales growth quarter after quarter, they continuously needed to provide reasons for people to enter their stores. Many consumers enjoyed the experience of buying books online from To attract consumers inside their doors, Barnes & Noble used promotions similar to those employed by Borders, such as readings, book signings, and lectures. Its stores also featured comfortable seating and in-store cafe´s. In 2003 Barnes & Noble’s sales grew more than 11 percent, surpassing the 3.78 percent growth Borders experienced that year.

To maximize the campaign’s limited budget, Crispin Porter + Bogusky wanted to create print ads that consumers could interact with. On November 30 ‘‘This Season, It’s the Original Thought That Counts’’ appeared in three different executions across print and outdoor mediums. Roper and David Steinke, the project’s art director, were challenged to create spots that conveyed the meaningfulness of certain gifts, especially the kind sold at Borders. The campaign portrayed other kinds of presents, such as purely functional items, as involving less sentiment and as therefore less desirable. ‘‘Price and selection and convenience can only get you so far,’’ Roper told Adweek. ‘‘You have to start with more of a brand perspective. If you think about the offerings in a place like [Borders], it’s a far more personal statement or gift than a sweater or curling iron—if it’s chosen right.’’
The first set of ads appeared in more than 40 newspapers nationwide, including the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post. When discovered by the reader, the insert first appeared as folded wrapping paper embellished with reindeer. Once unfolded, the back of the wrapping paper displayed a life-size image of a book jacket. Copy appeared as review endorsements, such as, ‘‘Ever notice how when you gift wrap a book, everyone can always tell it’s a book? They don’t have to pick it up, shake it or put their ear to it. They look and they know.’’ ‘‘Hmm, a book,’’ appeared below in faded text. The insert was large enough to gift wrap most books. The second execution, inserted in Rolling Stone magazine, was a snowflake-themed piece of wrapping paper with an actual-size photograph of a DVD case on the back. Consumers could place their DVDs directly onto the advertisement and gift wrap DVDs. Copy that mimicked the formatting seen on the back of most DVDs read, ‘‘A lot of other gifts, besides a DVD, can fit in this 5.5’’ _ 7.5’’ rectangle. A small box of monogrammed handkerchiefs, for one. But after wrapping paper and ribbons have settled, nobody will curl up on the couch, belly stuffed with turkey sandwiches, to watch the climactic battle scene between a pair of designer socks.’’ To the left of the photograph appeared the Borders logo and the campaign’s tagline. Wrapping-paper inserts for gift wrapping a CD case were run in the New Yorker. Outdoor ads appeared on mall kiosks and billboards, displaying copy such as, ‘‘If the pen is mightier than the sword, all original ideas can beat the you-know-what out of a toaster.’’ Another image showed a woman catching snowflakes on her tongue, and each snowflake bore a title of a movie, book, or CD. The campaign ran through December of 2003.

Waldenbooks, owned by the Borders Group, was founded in 1933. The bookstore was named after Walden Pond, the Massachusetts pond that inspired Henry David Thoreau to write his renowned transcendentalist work Walden.

The ‘‘This Season’’ campaign made its mark in the advertising industry, collecting awards such as a silver at the One Show, a Bronze Lion award at the Cannes Advertising Festival, and a silver at the Clio Awards. The campaign’s newspaper execution earned a Silver Pencil and won Best in Show at the 2004 ATHENA Awards competition. John E. Kimball, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the Newspaper Association of America, remarked on ATHENA’s website, ‘‘This year’s Best in Show winner, in particular, demonstrates how a little ‘outside-the-wrapper’ thinking can have a tremendous impact.’’
For 2003 Borders posted a 3.78 percent growth in sales from the previous year, and 35 percent of the company’s 2003 sales took place during the quarter that ‘‘This Season, It’s the Original Thought That Counts’’ took place. The industry leader, Barnes & Noble, posted significantly higher growth: 11.62 percent. Borders struggled to define its brand in 2003 and to gain on Barnes & Noble; but as Candace Corlett, a partner at the marketing consultancy WSL Strategic Retail, told Adweek, Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s campaign was definitely ‘‘a step in the right direction.’’


In 1976, when the cosmetics industry was making exaggerated claims about scientific advancements in skin care, Anita Roddick opened a store, The Body Shop, in a seaside town on the southern coast of England. Her product line, based on natural ingredients and age-old beauty secrets from Polynesia and the Amazon rainforest, was a vast departure from the patented laboratorycreated, animal-tested products that promised to stop the aging process, eradicate dark circles under the eyes, and otherwise correct a woman’s flaws. The products were plainly packaged, and they were not tested on animals and not promoted through extravagant advertising campaigns.
In 1988 Roddick opened her first store in the United States, and by that time—through various social initiatives such as the ‘‘Stop the Burn’’ campaign to save the Brazilian rainforest (the source of many of the company’s natural ingredients) and strong support of employee volunteerism—The Body Shop name had become synonymous with social activism and global preservation worldwide. The company had also become immensely profitable.
By the mid-1990s, however, The Body Shop faced growing competition, forcing it to begin its first major advertising initiative, the most prominent part of which was the ‘‘Ruby’’ campaign. The campaign was personified by Ruby, a doll with Rubenesque proportions who was perched on an antique couch and who looked quite pleased with herself and her plump frame. Randy Williamson, a spokesperson for The Body Shop, said, ‘‘Ruby is the fruit of our long-established practice of challenging the way the cosmetic industry talks to women. The Ruby campaign is designed to promote the idea that The Body Shop creates products designed to enhance features, moisturize, cleanse, and polish, not to correct ‘flaws.’ The Body Shop philosophy is that there is real beauty in everyone. We are not claiming that our products perform miracles.’’
The Ruby doll, a computer-generated image, appeared on posters, stickers, and T-shirts and in magazine ads. The campaign was launched in the United States in September 1997 following its successful introduction in several other countries.

The Body Shop was founded in 1976 in Brighton, England. From her original shop, which offered a line of 25 different lotions, creams, and oils, Roddick became the first successful marketer of body care products that combined natural ingredients with ecologically-benign manufacturing processes. Her company’s refusal to test products on animals, along with an insistence on nonexploitative labor practices among suppliers around the world, appealed especially to upscale, mainly middleclass women, who were and have continued to be the company’s primary market.
Part of the secret of The Body Shop’s early success was that it had created a market niche for itself. The company was not directly competing against the traditional cosmetics companies, which marketed their products as fashion accessories designed to cover up flaws and make women look more like the fashion models who appeared in their lavish ads. Instead, The Body Shop offered a line of products that promised benefits other than appearance—healthier skin, for instance—rather than simply a better-looking complexion. During the 1980s, when The Body Shop dominated the niche it had created, it avoided the kinds of traditional marketing used by the more fashion-driven cosmetics companies. This ‘‘antimarketing’’ strategy defied conventional wisdom in several important ways: the company had no advertising agency, it did not hire fashion photographers to photograph beautiful women wearing its products, and it did not advertise in the usual women’s magazines. Instead, it relied on in-store promotions, including posters and educational materials that targeted its own customers, who then passed the word to their friends. This word-of-mouth approach, often regarded as the most effective form of marketing thanks to its built-in credibility factor, was augmented by a huge amount of favorable publicity generated largely by Roddick herself. Roddick was outspoken in her views on environmentalism and social justice, and in the 1980s her beliefs ran against the prevailing political and social climate in a way that appealed to her target market. One of the company’s best-known stands was its hard-line opposition to animal testing for cosmetics. It also instituted a Community Trade Programme, which attempted to find the company’s natural ingredients from grassroots cooperatives and other community-based groups, thus helping to ensure that the profits went to people in need rather than to exploitative subcontractors. The Eastern European Relief Drive, designed to fund orphanages in Romania, and the Brazilian Healthcare Project, which provided care for 28 villages in the Amazon, were other company projects having little to do with cosmetics and everything to do with building a positive image for its socially conscious customers.
These initiatives generated an ongoing stream of favorable press attention, and The Body Shop, along with the American ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s, was hailed as a new breed of green, or environmentally conscious, business. As sales boomed, even the conservative financial markets approved of The Body Shop’s impressive profit picture, and a public stock offering in 1984 was successful. An expansion campaign followed. In 1988 the company entered the U.S. market by opening a store in New York City, and by 1997 the company boasted 1,500 stores, including franchises, in 47 countries. Antimarketing seemed to be smart marketing, at least as far as The Body Shop was concerned.

With its emphasis on natural ingredients and ethical processes, The Body Shop made it clear from the beginning that it was creating products for women who cared not only about their health and appearance but also about the environment. The company’s success, in fact, was built on its ability to blend a product line with an environmentally conscious philosophy, which was particularly attractive to the generation of women who grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s. These women saw the Body Shop as an ethical alternative to the beauty-at-any-price stance of the more fashion-driven cosmetics companies. But it was also an emotional appeal, one that promised customers that in buying its products they were doing something good for the planet. In its early years The Body Shop’s customers tended to be young middle-class women who could afford the extra expense that high-quality natural ingredients often entailed but who also bridled at the high prices attached to designer cosmetics. Over the years, as these early customers aged, many retained their ‘‘global’’ sensibilities, and The Body Shop continued to be a reliable source of products they could believe in. Beauty in the traditional sense as portrayed by other cosmetics companies was never a concern either in The Body Shop’s products or in its marketing. Thus, the ‘‘Ruby’’ campaign, which questioned the ideal of a thin body for every woman, was consistent with the company’s long-standing principles. The campaign was also in line with another of the company’s beliefs—truth in advertising—which had strong appeal to its target market. If The Body Shop was not going to make exaggerated claims for its products, it certainly was not going to pretend that every woman could, or should, try to look like the extremely thin models that filled women’s magazines.

By the mid-1990s The Body Shop’s once invincible hold on its market began to loosen. Competitors, including The Limited’s Bath & Body Works, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Aveda, had launched their own lines of natural cosmetics, often through their own chains of stores. The resulting glut precipitated a market shakeout in which smaller, undercapitalized companies began to be forced out of business, and even the larger companies faced flattening growth curves.
The Body Shop found that, especially in the United States, its antimarketing style was having difficulty in the face of much more aggressive efforts by its competitors. American consumers, long accustomed to being actively campaigned for by advertisers, were less loyal to brands than the English and were more apt to be tempted by new products, new brands, and new packaging. Gift giving—for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and other holidays—was important in the United States, but The Body Shop’s European management was late in realizing how great an impact this could have. By 1995 its profits from U.S. sales were falling, and as share prices responded to the disappointing profit figures, The Body Shop’s relationship with the financial community also became strained. In 1996, its 20th anniversary, the company faced a crisis that seemed to demand a new marketing strategy.

In the 1990s The Body Shop attempted to extended its market to include men. Although they were slow to accept ‘‘cosmetics,’’ men, especially those who had grown up in the 1960s and 1970s, were open to shaving lotions and suntan oils. As a result, The Body Shop introduced lines of men’s lotions and oils made with natural and ethically produced ingredients. In June 1997, prior to the ‘‘Ruby’’ campaign, The Body Shop displayed in its stores a poster that depicted a man with a bottle protruding from his bathing suit. The poster was advertising The Body Shop’s selftanning lotion. The poster offended some people, and in North Carolina there were protests. Unwilling to be pressured by what it perceived to be a double standard in sexual stereotyping, the company refused to remove the poster from its stores.

In 1995 The Body Shop responded to its eroding market share by doubling its U.K. marketing budget while dramatically slowing the rate at which it was opening new stores in the United States. It also broke tradition by creating an in-house marketing department, something it had always resisted, and it named a marketing director and added marketing managers for individual product lines. In 1994 The Body Shop had hired the London office of the American advertising agency Chiat/Day (since renamed St. Lukes), though only in a ‘‘marketing consultancy’’ role, and by the following year the company was poised to regroup its marketing efforts. At the same time The Body Shop was careful to back up its high, marketing profile with a series of initiatives aimed at convincing customers that the changes were more than just skin deep. These included a complete packaging redesign, a new hairstyling line, relaunches of the hair care and skin care lines, and several new fragrances. The company also announced a new direct home-shopping service and took its message directly to the American market with a 300-squarefoot show truck that toured selected cities with product demonstrations. And for the first time the company began to entertain the possibility of direct advertising at the local level in the American market. Ads began to appear, though not in any orchestrated media campaign and mostly in smaller alternative publications such as Mother Jones.
With these initiatives starting to take effect throughout 1996, the company was planning its boldest marketing effort yet, the ‘‘Ruby’’ campaign. Part of a broader ‘‘Love Your Body’’ campaign, the ‘‘Ruby’’ campaign in the United States began with in-store posters and an ad in Self magazine. In keeping with The Body Shop’s iconoclastic tradition, the company positioned itself squarely against an idea that had long dominated the fashion industry, the notion that there was an ideal beauty to which all women should aspire and that the ideal was decided by experts in Paris, New York, and London. The ‘‘Ruby’’ ad showed a redheaded, decidedly Rubenesque nude doll (hence the name Ruby) lounging luxuriously on a green velvet sofa. The headline had a blunt message: ‘‘There are 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 who do.’’ The concept was created in-house by a team that included Roddick; her husband Gordon, who was the company’s chairman; and Marina Galanti, the former international communications and media director for Benetton Group, the Italian clothing company known for its ads featuring social issues rather than clothes. In a U.S. interview with National Public Radio, Roddick described the setting of Ruby’s creation: ‘‘The girls in [British fashion magazines] are exactly what the media wants . . . they have no bodies, they’re too thin. They are passive. They are, you know, beaten up. So, we—three of us in my office—we came up with this broadsheet which was called ‘Full Voice.’ It was like a pamphlet on the body and self-esteem.’’ While working on the pamphlet, they found a computer image of a doll they altered, blowing it up to an ever greater size until it became the Ruby of the campaign. The Body Shop placed the image in 400,000 newspaper inserts, and soon afterward the campaign took off.
It was notable that, like the Benetton campaigns, The Body Shop’s new ad did not feature any products. It was satisfied to identify itself with a movement already well under way that held that a woman’s sense of wellbeing, self-esteem, and beauty should arise from qualities such as health and happiness rather than from external ideals. A company statement at the time proclaimed, ‘‘As the personification of The Body Shop’s commitment to self-esteem, Ruby is more than just an image; she’s a state of mind—strong, independent and informed. She doesn’t weigh her self-esteem against false standards. She loves her body and is true to herself.’’ Although this was an unusual message for a line of skin and hair care products, it came at a time when other companies were also making ads that questioned conventional images of beauty. In print ads for Freeman Cosmetics, for example, a woman was shown with her back to the camera. The caption asked, ‘‘How much do you need to see to know I’m beautiful?’’ An ad for Dove soap declared that its bar was ‘‘for the beauty that’s already there.’’ Even more blunt was a Canadian ad for Kellogg’s Special K cereal. Featuring a very thin model, the ad asked, ‘‘If this is beauty, there’s something wrong with the eye of the beholder.’’ But among the advertising campaigns in this trend, the ‘‘Ruby’’ ad was among the most provocative because it not only questioned the ideal of an exceptionally thin body—which most women could not attain—but also promoted a nude ‘‘size 18’’ doll as an example of beauty.
Concurrent with the ad, The Body Shop produced Ruby stickers, postcards, and refrigerator magnets for sale in its stores and installed 40- by 60-foot banners of the doll in 289 selected stores in the United States. Though by far the most noted part of the company’s new advertising initiative, ‘‘Ruby’’ was actually just one of a trilogy of issues-oriented campaigns that focused on body image, domestic violence, and aging. For the campaign on domestic violence, launched in October 1997, The Body Shop sold special whistles designed to call attention to what it had identified as another hot-button issue for women. The third issue, aging, with its natural tie-in to wrinkles and skin care, came closest to being a traditional product supporter.
These campaigns were supported by Full Voice, which, beginning as a broadsheet, was transformed into a company magazine. Produced in-house, the magazine was used to promote all of the company’s ongoing environmental and social causes. Its reasoned explanations of emotionally resonant issues fit well within the company’s overall strategy of appealing to the whole woman rather than just her body.

The ‘‘Ruby’’ ad generated immediate attention both in the press and among the public. The New York Times and Good Morning America both ran stories, and the advertising press took note. Simon Green, creative partner at the advertising agency BDDH in London, wrote approvingly of the ad for the Independent: ‘‘Most women know that they are not supermodels, but there is no advertising out there that recognizes them for who they are without being condescending or patronising . . . I’m not even in the target audience, but even as a man it makes me have more empathy for The Body Shop.’’ During the campaign the company reported a boost in sales in some of its markets, including a 12 percent sales increase in Australia and Switzerland.
Not everyone, though, was fond of the campaign. National Public Radio, which interviewed pedestrians passing by a Ruby poster in New York City, found mixed reactions. One person said, ‘‘I think it’s too bitterly honest. It looks kind of degrading.’’ Another pedestrian remarked, ‘‘It’s representative, but they could have made her look more appealing . . . put a slip or something on her.’’ Still another said, ‘‘It looks like a Barbie Doll that went wrong.’’ But others in the interview were impressed. ‘‘It makes you feel better about yourself,’’ a pedestrian said, reflecting one of the main goals of the campaign. The Body Shop, in fact, received thousands of calls and letters from women expressing gratitude for Ruby’s realistic portrayal of beauty—gratitude, the company hoped, that would translate into increased sales for its products. But Sean Larkins, corporate public relations manager for The Body Shop, said, ‘‘We don’t see profits as the be-all and end-all. We feel that business has a social responsibility to the self-esteem and well-being of its customers.’’


Crayola was the most recognized brand name in children’s art products, but as the twenty-first century dawned, the company that made Crayola—Binney & Smith of Easton, Pennsylvania (founded in 1885, a subsidiary of Hallmark since 1984)—grew more and more concerned that brand perception had boxed it into a corner. The public saw that Crayola had only crayons and markers, and for that reason 90 percent of its sales came during the late summer, when children were preparing to return to school. Furthermore, most new Crayola products were so overshadowed by the brand’s two main items that sales in other areas were poor. Lastly, many viewed the line as old-fashioned, as even art supplies had moved into the electronic age.
To correct this perception Binney & Smith turned to its advertising agency of record, Leo Burnett of Chicago. In response to the challenge, the agency devised an award-winning television campaign on a budget of less than $1 million. The campaign, which aired on television for three weeks in spring of 2003, was titled ‘‘Make Play.’’ Two ads, ‘‘Night’’ and ‘‘Fin,’’ highlighted the new Crayola products while showing that children could enjoy Crayola year-round.
The campaign was effective enough to garner a 2004 Silver EFFIE Award. It also set the tone for future Crayola campaigns that emphasized the product line as being more diverse than simply crayons and markers.

Coincidentally or not, 2003 marked the centennial anniversary of the Crayola brand. For most of those 100 years the product held a secure place in the market—more than 120 billion crayons were sold worldwide—and therefore change came slowly to Crayola. Aside from expanding the number of colors (the 48-count box debuted in 1949, the 64-count box with sharpener in 1958) and occasionally renaming the colors (in 1962, for instance, ‘‘flesh’’ was renamed ‘‘peach’’), the Crayola brand pretty much adhered to its tried-and-true formula. In 1978 markers became part of the product line, and for the next 25 years the company was perceived in light of those two products, despite the fact that in 1976 Binney & Smith had bought the highly successful product Silly Putty.
Crayola periodically reinforced itself in the public mind for most of that quarter of a century with marketing efforts that encouraged people to come up with names for new colors or rename old colors. Research and development was not, however, dormant at Crayola. Among the newer Crayola products was Window Writers, color markers that enabled children to write on windows and that were easily wiped off. In 2002 Window Writers were given the seal of excellence by the Quebec Consumers Association, which tested toys with 199 children aged 6 months to 12 years. In June 2002 Binney & Smith took another tack in its effort to push its products beyond the once- or twice-a-year buying spurts. The company opened what was referred to as a ‘‘branded destination site’’ in Hanover, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. Leslie Kaufman of the New York Times described Crayola Works as ‘‘a hybrid store and creative arts studio.’’
By 2003 Crayola’s annual output was stupendous. According to Kathy Flanigan writing in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, it amounted to 1.5 million bottles of paint, 9 million Silly Putty eggs, 110 million sticks of chalk, 465 million markers, 600 million colored pencils, and a staggering 3 billion crayons. Still, there remained the problem of overcoming the perception that Crayola was a once-a-year buy. Sales of paints, modeling compound, and activity kits had decreased to such an extent that in November 2002 Binney & Smith announced it was dropping the third shift of its plant in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The company also moved some production to Mexico.

Part of the challenge of the ‘‘Make Play’’ campaign was to shift Crayola’s traditional target market from parents (primarily mothers) to children aged six to nine. It was parental buying habits that contributed greatly to the notion of Crayola products as simply back-to-school items. In other words, what Crayola had to do was appeal directly to those people using its products—kids—in order to break a century-old, ingrained shopping habit. In the ‘‘brief of effectiveness’’ that it submitted for the EFFIE Awards, the Leo Burnett agency explained that, in order to fuel sales growth throughout the year, Crayola needed to make kids themselves excited about the products. Further, it stated, ‘‘The brand also needed to go beyond the same old basic school-supply crayons and markers and focus on innovative products to drive category enthusiasm with kids.’’ In other words Crayola was going to appeal to its new target market, six to nine year olds, by offering products that might not be seen as school supplies.

Crayola’s competitors within the children’s-arts-andcrafts category included Alex, Rose Art, Faber Castell, Imaginarium (the in-house brand for Toys ‘‘R’’ Us), and Newell Rubbermaid, Inc. A century of name recognition, however, made Crayola dominant in the field. In 2001 Crayola controlled about 75 percent of the market, with Rose Art a distant second at 13 percent. With regard to market share the competition was almost negligible, though in more upscale toy stores, brands such as Alex, Rose Art, and even Faber Castell sometimes predominated. The relative newcomer to the field was Newell Rubbermaid, which had acquired pencil-maker Sanford in 1992. In 2001 Newell Rubbermaid announced that it was reviving Sanford’s Colorific brand and taking on Crayola’s hegemony in the crayon-and-marker market, which was then valued at some $800 million. Newell’s goal was to acquire a 10 percent market share by 2003. Crayola faced stiffer competition for children’s time from products outside the category of children’s arts and crafts. First and perhaps foremost were television and its ancillary products, such as videos, DVDs, and video games. Competition was also provided by other children’s toys specific to the age category of Crayola’s target audience. Whether the competitors’ toys (outside of the arts-and-crafts field) were electronic or not, they were still seen as year-round activities. Despite the fact that coloring was also a year-round activity, it was not seen as such with regard to consumer spending. Still, the Leo Burnett agency, in conjunction with Binney & Smith, believed that Crayola’s newer items were enough of a basis upon which to build year-round demand, a demand that would center on the intrinsic value of the products.

Arts-and-crafts toys were essentially the opposite of electronic games and toys in that they stimulated a child’s imagination rather than dulled it. The strategy of the ‘‘Make Play’’ ad campaign of 2003 was to reinforce this premise while focusing on new Crayola products, Twistables, a crayon created in response to the Glitz Stix put out under Sanford’s Colorific brand;
Click Em On Markers, which enabled a child to engage in two different activities, drawing and building; and Model Magic, a new type of modeling clay that dried overnight, allowing children more or less to create their own toys. These new products were to help achieve the campaign’s goals of stimulating brand sales beyond the back-to-school period and expanding Crayola’s already dominant market share of the children’s-arts-and-crafts category.
Because the campaign’s budget was limited to less than $600,000, television was the medium of choice. In fact, no other advertising medium was used to support the campaign. As reported in Leo Burnett’s EFFIE Award brief for the campaign, ‘‘After evaluating a variety of media vehicles, TV ranked highest for the target’s media consumption, affinity, mass reach, and ability to drive awareness of our product.’’ The belief was that the television spots would ignite in the six- to nine-year-old target market what the agency dubbed ‘‘pester power’’—children asking their parents to buy them something. The television spots came out during the third week of April 2003, just prior to the Easter holiday. Traditionally this time of year was the third-heaviest period for children’s advertisers (the top two were the back-to-school period and the weeks leading up to Christmas). The spots featured two commercials:
‘‘Night,’’ which advertised Crayola Twistables, and ‘‘Fin,’’ which showcased Click Em Ons. Lewis Lazare, an advertising critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, rated the former spot over the latter. He also stated, ‘‘the ads make clear that Crayola has moved beyond the simple crayon with the introduction of products aimed at today’s sophisticated youngster, for whom simplicity isn’t necessarily a virtue.’’
In discussing the Crayola spots Lazare wrote:
‘‘ ‘Fin’ . . . promotes Click Em Ons, a new marker that doubles as a set of sticks that click together to build things . . . The spot shows a boy using Click Em Ons to make [paper] shark fins that he places around his nearby pet dog. Then the boy snaps together the markers to build a protective cage for the pooch. The spot ably demonstrates how the product works.’’ Lazare took exception, however, to the background music, arguing that it contributed to what he thought was a moody tone. As for the other spot, ‘‘Night,’’ he said that it had ‘‘a lighter, more fanciful aura, as well as some lovely visuals.’’ The commercial’s first scene showed a boy playing with a glowing orb, pretending that it was a basketball. In the second scene the boy was at his desk looking through his window at his muse: a full moon. He was drawing with Twistables, a crayon designed so that the user did not have to peel paper to reveal more wax when the tip had worn down.

The name ‘‘Crayola’’ was devised in 1903 by Alice Binney, the wife of Edwin Binney (who, together with his cousin C. Harold Smith, had invented the crayons). She combined craie, the French word for chalk, with ‘‘ola,’’ short for oleaginous or oily. Literally, ‘‘Crayola’’ meant ‘‘oily chalk.’’ A survey conducted in 1999 indicated that 99 percent of Americans recognized the Crayola name.

In 2004 the ‘‘Make Play’’ campaign received a Silver EFFIE Award. EFFIEs were given in recognition of a campaign’s effectiveness in the marketplace. The campaign, at least in the short term, accomplished both goals that had been set. Regarding stimulating sales beyond the back-to-school period, Model Magic experienced a 42.6 percent increase during the three-week advertising period. Subsequently sales tapered off, and for a number of weeks they remained at a plateau that was slightly higher than the pre-advertisement figures before settling to pre-advertisement levels in the summer of 2003. The improvement in sales of Click Em On Markers was more dramatic. During the weeks of the ‘‘Make Play’’ campaign the markers experienced a 64 percent increase in sales compared to the six weeks prior to the campaign. Furthermore, in the week following the campaign’s end, sales actually increased compared to the campaign’s final week. In the second week after the campaign, sales were off only slightly from the campaign’s final week. Both of these weeks represented substantial increases over the immediate pre-advertisement period. The campaign’s second goal was to increase Crayola’s share of the children’s-arts-and-crafts market. To that end the campaign was also successful. Crayola gained 1.8 market share points over the same period in 2002.
Binney & Smith continued to find ways of maintaining Crayola products as items for year-round purchase, including expanding the product line. One lucrative strategy was to keep the Crayola brand name in people’s minds through licensing. The Crayola brand had been licensed since the early 1990s, but in June 2003, soon after the ‘‘Make Play’’ campaign had run its course, Binney & Smith opted to maintain a booth at the Licensing Show (an annual trade event at which companies showcased their brands for prospective promotional partners) for the first time. As Amanda Burgess reported in the trade magazine KidScreen, Binney & Smith was attempting to expand its Crayola brand by creating a network of ‘‘A-list partners in toys, stationery/school supplies, apparel, accessories, bed, bath, home, publishing, and food.’’
In 2004 Binney & Smith ended its association with the Leo Burnett agency. That same year the company strengthened its grip on the arts-and-crafts category when the company started Big Yellow Box, a direct-sales venture that used independent representatives to market craft kits.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The BC Dairy Foundation (BCDF) was established in 1974 to promote milk consumption in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Dividing its resources between in-school educational efforts and mainstream media campaigns, the organization, like most milk marketers in Canada, primarily targeted adults in its advertising. For much of the 1980s and 1990s, however, rates of milk consumption in British Columbia, as in other parts of North America and the world, declined substantially. In 2003, enlisting agency Palmer Jarvis DDB (later referred to as DDB Canada, Vancouver), BCDF changed its marketing strategy and targeted teens and young adults in a bold, risky campaign called ‘‘Don’t Take Your Body for Granted.’’ Rather than preaching to young people about the nutritional virtues of milk, ‘‘Don’t Take Your Body for Granted’’ instead took the idea of bodily neglect to an absurdly humorous extreme. In TV, film, print, and outdoor advertisements, bodiless humans—beings made of heads attached directly to feet—were shown in ordinary situations that, without a body, were extremely difficult. For instance, a TV/film spot showed an elderly bodiless woman attempting to walk her small dog but instead being dragged through the streets of her neighborhood, and print ads featured such scenarios as a terrified head being toyed with by a cat and a befuddled male head looking up at an impossibly high public-restroom urinal. A companion website allowed users to create their own scenarios using the bodiless humans from the commercials. Despite a having budget of only $3 million a year during its 2003–04 run, the campaign was able to break through to its target market by using bold humor and memorable imagery.
‘‘Don’t Take Your Body for Granted’’ attracted favorable media attention and won numerous advertising awards. Milk consumption rates, which had been declining for roughly 20 years in British Columbia, increased by 1 percent in 2003.

Though many consumers in the English-speaking world associated milk advertising with the ‘‘Got Milk?’’ campaign that in the 1990s began running in California and then throughout the United States, advertising on behalf of regional and national consortiums of North American dairy farmers was a well-established practice prior to that campaign. The concept of depicting celebrities wearing milk mustaches (associated with a well-known U.S. campaign of the 1990s), in fact, was first used in the 1970s in a Canadian campaign called ‘‘Wear a Moustache,’’ crafted by the Toronto office of ad agency Ogilvy&Mather for the OntarioMilk Marketing Board. Likewise, the Milk Calendar, first produced in 1976 by Toronto agency Allard Johnson for the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (in partnership with the provincial milk boards of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and the Maritimes), featured milkcentric recipes and images of health and wellness and was distributed free to millions of daily-paper subscribers in Canada. The Milk Calendar became part of the fabric of Canadian culture, gaining the loyalty of multiple generations of Canadians and accounting for measurable increases in milk consumption upon its yearly release.
The BC Dairy Foundation (BCDF) was established in 1974 to serve as the public voice of British Columbia’s dairy producers and processors. A nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing milk consumption in that Canadian province, BCDF pursued its goal in two primary ways: by partnering with the provincial school system to educate children about the nutritional benefits of drinking milk, and by marketing and promoting fluid milk and cream in the province.
For most of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s Canadian milk advertising in all provinces targeted adults, while milk producers used educational programs to reach children in the schools. During this time declines in milk consumption became a seemingly permanent fact of North American life. When in 2002 BCDF embarked on an agency search for a new media campaign, it decided to change advertising tactics. The organization selected one of Canada’s top advertising agencies, Palmer Jarvis DDB of Vancouver (later called DDB Canada, Vancouver), to craft a new campaign that would appeal to young people.

BCDF and Palmer Jarvis DDB selected 16- to 24-yearold British Columbia residents as their target for the ‘‘Don’t Take Your Body for Granted’’ campaign. This group was notoriously fickle and difficult to reach, especially by advertising on behalf of milk, which, far from having any fashionable brand attributes, was not even a brand but a raw product fully lacking in properties that might be considered ‘‘cool.’’ These teenagers and young adults, however, were particularly vital to the project of increasing milk consumption in the population at large, because the age of 16 or 17 marked the time in life when most people ceased consuming milk regularly.
Palmer Jarvis DDB enlisted its youth-marketing sibling shop, DDB Kid Think, to undertake substantial research on its target group, gleaning insights from interactions with high school and college students. Based on this research Palmer Jarvis DDB concluded that teens could be convinced to drink milk neither with a pitch suggesting that it was cool to do so nor with preachy messages about the health benefits of milk consumption. To substantially alter milk-consumption patterns among the target group, the agency felt, it had to do no less than make young people see milk in a new way. It thus began the search for a governing concept that was, according to Marketing Magazine, ‘‘unpredictable, slightly outrageous, and purposely non-adult.’’

The other Canadian provinces each had individual organizations similar to BCDF. Rather than compete with one another, they each had the same goal of increasing milk consumption in their respective provinces. Several parallel milk advertising campaigns thus ran at once in Canada during this time, representing a variety of tactics and messages, while the most recognizable milk campaign of all time was airing in the United States. One of the most lauded Canadian milk campaigns of the late 1990s and early 2000s was the work of the Quebec milk-producers group Fe´de´ration des producteurs de lait du Que´bec and its agency BBDO Montreal. Launched in 1998, the campaign targeted adults with the theme ‘‘Jamais sans mon lait’’ (never without my milk) and used French songs by classic recording artists such as Gilbert Be´caud, Charles Trenet, and Edith Piaf, together with sentimental, everyday scenes showing the defining presence of milk in the various stages of life. The immense popularity of the campaign led the milk federation to release The White Album, a CD compilation of the songs featured in the commercials. The album sold 250,000 copies. In 2001 an English-language segment of the campaign was unveiled for the benefit of the 800,000 Anglophones living in Quebec.
In the early 2000s the organizations representing dairy farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba pooled their resources and marketing skills for another noteworthy Canadian campaign, crafted by Vancouver’s Cossette Communication-Marketing. These organizations targeted 9- to 17-year-olds, reasoning that children in this age group had more autonomy than in previous generations and therefore needed to be persuaded to make their own choice of milk over other beverage options. Like BCDF, these marketers understood that a pitch relying on the health benefits of milk would not be effective with young people. Using the tagline ‘‘Never Stop. Milk,’’ individual TV spots employed images that dramatized such issues as first love, emotional loss, and the power of the imagination, all of which played on the idea of growth that never stopped. Milk was not featured explicitly in the commercials but rather was linked to physical and intellectual growth.
The best-known milk advertising campaign during this time—and of all time—was ‘‘Got Milk?’’ It was created by agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Processor Board. ‘‘Got Milk?’’ began as a California campaign in 1993, ran nationally in the United States from 1995 to 1998, and continued to run in its state of origin through the early 2000s. It took as its conceptual basis scenes in which the lack of milk resulted in humorously serious predicaments. Although ‘‘Got Milk?’’ was associated with the well-known print and outdoor campaign featuring celebrities with milk mustaches, which ran nationally in the late 1990s and through the 2000s, the two were actually separate campaigns. The defining ‘‘Got Milk?’’ spot was called ‘‘Aaron Burr,’’ and it featured a bookish history buff who could not provide the answer to a radio trivia contest—listeners were asked to name the person who shot Alexander Hamilton (the answer was Aaron Burr)—because his mouth was full of peanut butter and he had no milk. The celebrity milk-mustache campaign, created for the nationwide Milk Processor Education Program by agency Bozell (and based on a 1970s Canadian campaign), began its run with the tagline ‘‘Where’s your mustache?’’ When it discovered that consumers already believed that ‘‘Got Milk?’’ was the mustache campaign’s tagline, the Milk Processor Education Program purchased the usage rights to ‘‘Got Milk?’’ from the California Milk Processor Board. ‘‘Got Milk?’’ became one of the best-known ad slogans in recent memory as well as a brand in its own right. The California Milk Processor Board created a briskly selling line of retail products—baby clothes, toys, ice-cream scoops, and aprons among them—with the tagline imprinted on them.

The BC Dairy Foundation followed up its ‘‘Don’t Take Your Body for Granted’’ campaign with a similarly daring 2005 campaign tagged ‘‘It’s Always Been Survival of the Fittest. Drink Milk.’’ The campaign’s TV spots were set in the Stone Age, which BCDF described in a press release as ‘‘a time when making nutritional food choices could have an immediate impact on survival.’’ In the commercials cavemen were shown making poor beverage choices that resulted in their failure to survive. For instance, one spot showed a caveman who stumbled upon a soda can on a desert plain. While tilting the mostly empty can to try and get the remnants of the drink into his mouth, he was trampled by a dinosaur, who was shown trying to scrape the man from his foot at the end of the commercial.

In ‘‘Don’t Take Your Body for Granted,’’ which was launched in January 2003, Palmer Jarvis DDB attempted to satisfy its mandate of changing the way teens looked at milk with an absurdly humorous visual conceit: the campaign theme was dramatized through images of human beings who literally had no bodies. They instead consisted of normal heads attached directly to feet, and each of the campaign’s many TV, cinema, print, and outdoor executions illustrated the difficulty of life without a body. For instance, one TV/cinema spot, ‘‘Dogwalker,’’ showed the bodiless head of a grandmotherly woman being dragged behind the poodle she was attempting to walk. Another spot, ‘‘Bus,’’ centered on a public-bus driver who, because he consisted only of head and feet, could not effectively reach either the pedals or the steering wheel of the vehicle; meanwhile, his bodiless passengers rolled about on the bus’s floorboards. These commercials generated substantial tension and drama as the bodiless humans struggled unsuccessfully to regain control of their respective situations—situations that would have been ordinary but that had become positively harrowing in the absence of bodies. At the conclusion of each suspenseful action sequence, a white screen appeared with the message ‘‘Don’t take your body for granted’’ imprinted upon it. This screen was then replaced with a second white screen reading ‘‘Drink Milk.’’ Print and outdoor ads used the same concept, with the tagline printed along the bottom of each image. One print/outdoor ad, ‘‘Urinal,’’ showed a bodiless man looking up at a public-restroom urinal, which towered over him and presented an obviously insurmountable challenge. In ‘‘Cat’’ a cat toyed with a fearful head instead of a nearby ball of yarn, and ‘‘Escalator’’ showed the upturned, high-heeled feet and panicked head of a bodiless woman whose hair was caught in the teeth of an escalator.
An online component of the campaign, accessible at the website, supported the media placements by offering an interactive experience with the campaign’s bodiless humans. Users were asked to create their own 3-D images—employing their choice of backgrounds, characters, objects, speech bubbles, and motion lines—illustrating the difficulties presented by the lack of a body.
One of the initial difficulties Palmer Jarvis DDB faced was selling its conservative client on the outrageous idea it was suggesting. It therefore made a highly unusual proposition: if BCDF was not satisfied with the results of ‘‘Don’t Take Your Body for Granted,’’ the ad agency would create another campaign for free. BCDF took Palmer Jarvis DDB up on its offer, deciding to risk its reputation on the innovative campaign. The agency’s director of brand management, Bill Baker, told Strategy magazine that, faced with negative feedback from constituents in the organization, one board member responded by saying, ‘‘Listen, I’m not sure I entirely get this campaign either . . . .But my teen-aged kids love them. They laugh hysterically every time they see them, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.’’ The arresting nature of the campaign’s individual executions was particularly necessary given another of Palmer Jarvis DDB’s key obstacles: a budget of only 3 million Canadian dollars, which did not allow it to place the commercials with the frequency that was usually necessary to reach its target market effectively, and which did not remotely approach comparable ad spending on behalf of branded beverages. Palmer Jarvis DDB creative director Alan Russell told Boards, ‘‘Apart from being a strategically smart campaign, the ads will draw tremendous attention because of their originality. The concept, the story lines, the visual craziness and the surprising payoff are all so unexpected for the milk category that I can’t imagine not recalling these commercials, even after one viewing.’’

Creativity said of the ‘‘Don’t Take Your Body for Granted’’ campaign, ‘‘The fact is, our neighbors to the north at Palmer Jarvis DDB have out-mooed ‘Got Milk?’ with a disembodied piece of genius youth marketing.’’ The campaign won numerous Canadian and international awards, including a Bronze Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival for the TV spot ‘‘Dogwalker’’ and a Bronze Clio for the 2004 print campaign. Market research found that, despite the limited TV and cinema placement of the campaign’s spots—an unavoidable result of its minimal budget—80 percent of young people in British Columbia saw at least one of the commercials in 2003, compared to the 56 percent norm for campaigns with the same budget. Ninety-two percent of the young people who had seen individual spots agreed with descriptions of them as unique and different, and 83 percent deemed the commercials enjoyable. British Columbia’s milk consumption climbed by 1 percent in 2003, at a time when the dairy industry hoped at best for modestly declining—rather than rapidly declining—sales. The consumption of flavored milk by teens and young adults climbed by 11.5 percent in 2003 as well. The campaign ran through 2004.