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Mar 28, 2002
Case Study

Minute Maid Tests an Integrated Online/Offline Product Launch Campaign

SUMMARY: Like many large consumer packaged good companies, The Minute Maid Company was not a notably early adopter to the Web.  However, last year when Group Brand Manager Bobby Patton had to launch a new chilled product, Simply Orange Juice, he decided to try something that put Minute Maid at the forefront of online marketing innovation -- he got everybody in a room to plan the launch campaign. That is everybody as in really, honest-to-god, everybody. Does it really make a difference to your bottom line when you get your online and offline advertising, branding and PR folks to work together...
CHALLENGE

Like many large consumer packaged good companies, The Minute Maid Company was not a notably early adopter to the Web. (In fact we chided them in this newsletter two years ago for not having a Hi-C® brand Web site then.)

However, last year when Group Brand Manager Bobby Patton had to
launch a new chilled product, Simply Orange Juice, he decided to
try something that put Minute Maid at the forefront of online
marketing innovation -- he got everybody in a room to plan the
launch campaign.

That is everybody as in really, honest-to-god, everybody.

Director of Communications, Ray Crockett explains, "We got our ad
agency, our media planning agency, our Northeast PR agency, our
online agency, and a couple of reps from Simply Orange Juice."
They were all surprised, yet enthusiastic to be invited into the
same pre-launch planning session together.

Then everybody rolled up their sleeves, ordered lunch from a
great deli across the street, and went to work together to create Minute Maid's first, truly integrated online/offline product launch campaign.

CAMPAIGN

First the team agreed that every component of the
campaign not only needed to use similar colors and logos, but
they also needed to stay on message. Patton says, "The platform
is, it's simple, pure and honest. Every marketing element was
grounded in that."

Focus groups and market research had revealed that consumers
these days tend to think that simple, pure and honest products
come from smaller companies, so all branding throughout the
campaign focused on the product name as Simply Orange Juice, as
opposed to "A new juice from Minute Maid." In fact visitors to
SimplyOrangeJuice.com would be hard pressed to find a mention of
or link to Minute Maid anywhere on the site.

The team put together a launch plan, which used all the timing
and elements of a traditional launch plan, with online carefully
interwoven. There were four main steps:

-> Step #1. Package design

Patton wanted the design to reflect the fact that this new
product was very, very different from anything else in stores.
Instead of a traditional carton or opaque white plastic jug,
Simply Orange Juice is in a clear plastic container that looks a
carafe, with unusually small labeling on the front and back.

Kathy Sharpe, Founding Partner of Sharpe Partners (who were
responsible for the product's Web site), loved the look of this
packaging, "It's a very stand out product. I can't question the
beauty of the bottle and the impact it has on shelf space."

Patton says, "It's the most unique package to the chilled orange
juice section in 30 years. But that minimal labeling did mean
there was not a lot of room for the URL. We did stick it on the
back."

Sharpe laughs, "We kept asking for the URL on the label to be
bigger. Bobby finally threatened, 'If you say 'bigger' one more
time…!'" Sharpe admits she is pretty happy with the space the
URL ended up getting in the end.

-> Step #2. Presenting to retailers

An average of 10,000 new products are introduced in American
supermarkets each year, so you really have to work to stand
out. A few weeks before the product launched, Minute Maid's
representatives made presentations to the supermarket chains that
were going to carry it. (Simply Orange Juice was initially only
carried in the Northeast, and is now launching in a staggered
fashion slowly across the rest of America.)

During pitches and in all business communications, Minute Maid's
representatives were careful to stress the integrated campaign
that would support sales, and to show them a sample of the Web
site. Many store executives visited the site to check it out
initially, even before the product was available.

-> Step #3. Actual launch date

Although product started rolling out the door in April 2001,
traditionally Minute Maid has not invested much in offline
marketing (beyond initial PR) until a new product has been on the
market for six-to-eight weeks. That is because it takes about
that long to make sure every store involved is amply stocked to
meet demand.

As you can imagine, grocery stores fret about this lag time
because they do not want inventory sitting on shelves getting out
of date before enough consumers decide to try it. They liked
the idea that both the Web site and traditional PR would kick in
to build excitement before the heavier offline investment began
later.

-> Step #4. Mass advertising launch

Naturally, Patton took the now-obvious step of adding the URL to
all marketing materials, including TV ads and print ads. However, he
wondered if there was another way to integrate online and offline
campaign even more fully.

A big part of a packaged good launch is an FSI (free standing
insert) bearing a coupon in Sunday papers. Kathy Sharpe had a
brainwave -- why not make the FSI investment work twice as hard
by adding a special offer for people who visit the site?

Sharpe's team got a travel company to agree to donate four
vacation packages for a sweeps offer. Naturally all four
destinations matched brand messaging. Patton gives an example,
"We chose Utah instead of Vegas." The vacation company got the
benefit of the exposure, plus sweeps entrants were asked if they
would like to opt-in to the vacation company's email list.
(Joining Simply Orange Juice's list was a separate option.)

For maximum benefit, the FSI was designed so the sweeps offer was
right next to the coupon. Anyone clipping out the coupon
could not help but notice the URL to go to. The FSIs were
distributed to about 15 million households in the summer of 2001,
and the sweeps ended in October.

The sweeps entry form online (see link to samples below) featured
lush photos of the four destinations on every single page to
encourage maximum entries. (Far too often, marketers forget to
include an enticing graphic or compelling copy on the actual
registration form itself.)



RESULTS

After the launch, Minute Maid's share of the chilled orange juice marketplace for Northeastern America rose by about
50%, from 9.5% to almost 14.5% -- and it is still rising. In
this highly competitive marketplace, a rise that sharp and abrupt is remarkable. Simply Orange Juice's market share in particular went from zero to about 4.5%,

More than 100,000 unique visitors have been to the product's Web
site since it launched. The sweeps, which basically cost next to
nothing (the prizes were donated, and the FSI's were being
distributed anyway) generated almost 15,000 entries, 89% of whom
filled out additional non-required questions on the entry form,
and a solid 50% of whom opted-in to join the product's email
list. The vacation company got more than 4,000 opt-ins.

Patton says he was surprised by one result from the questionnaire on the sweeps entry form, "Consistently, people had already tried the product -- even very early on. We were very pleased. Also they told us they liked the site. We got quite a bit of positive feedback that it was easy to use."

Plus there was a larger corporate benefit -- brand managers and
marketers across Minute Maid as a whole watched this integrated
launch very carefully. They were impressed enough by the results to copy many of the campaign's tactics when launching additional products over the past year. Now a Web site is considered an essential part of any Minute Maid launch, especially to the kids and "tweens" markets.

USEFUL LINKS:
Samples of creative for online sweeps:
http://www.marketingsherpa1.com/minutemaid/sherpa_mm.html
Simply Orange Juice http://www.simplyorangejuice.com
Sharpe Partners http://www.sharpe-partners.com/

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