Graco finds social a success

While parenting bloggers play a big role in Graco’s new, integrated market­ing campaign that is rolling out to media outlets this week, the effort is just the latest example of the baby products marketer’s growing commitment to social media.

The “Ready for the road ahead” cam­paign kicked off with the September 8 launch of a Web site by the same name, aiming to help parents pick the right car seat and addressing the needs of parents who travel with children. The site fea­tures a car seat selection tool and videos by several parenting bloggers showing how to install the seats and offering other parenting tips.

Starting this week, the site will be sup­ported with more than 1 million e-mails, online ads featuring the bloggers, paid search and a partnership with family mag­azine Wondertime. Also, a sweepstakes in Babies ‘R’ Us Stores will continue through the end of the month, and Graco will use Twitter throughout the campaign to com­municate daily car seat safety and travel­ing tips with the online community.

Graco began its first fully integrated marketing campaign because “as budgets get tighter, we need the sum of the parts to be greater than the whole,” said Pancho Gutstein, director of brand marketing at Graco. The online spend, he added, is consistent with the company’s outlay for other major channels.

Graco worked with several different agencies on the campaign, including Doublespace for strategic marketing, Converseon for social media and LBi for the Web site.

The campaign is meant to mold parents into loyal customers for the entirety of the time their children need car seats — which can be up to 10 years.

Gutstein noted that Graco does well with infant, toddler and booster seats, but sees a drop-off for convertible seats, which are used in between infant and tod­dler seats. “We’re not doing a good job of communicating that we’re there all the way,” Gutstein said.

One way the campaign addresses loy­alty is with the “Ready. Safe. Go!” club, a loyalty program that offers tips on car seats and special offers from several par­ticipating manufacturers for which visitors to the Web site can sign up. For every 10 people who join the club through the end of December, Graco will donate a car seat to a family in need.

Several smaller social media efforts last year had proved successful for Graco, lead­ing to the development of this campaign. A microsite, featuring a contest in which parents could have their child featured on the cover of a Graco catalog by uploading a photograph, received more than 6,000 entries. Graco also launched a corporate blog featuring employees sharing parenting experiences, which receives thousands of unique visitors each month.

Graco’s next step in social media is a national Graco Nation Ambassador Pro­gram, which invites anyone who is a fan of Graco to become active in championing the brand. It is currently promoted on the campaign Web site.

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