Président Replaces Cheesy TV Spots with Digital

Not every marketer likes the taste of change. But relying on time-honored tactics can sometimes make marketing strategies seem a bit moldy. Président Cheese relied on television advertising for about 35 years. However, the specialty cheese brand realized that—unlike a vintage cheddar—not all marketing channels get better with age.

“Our biggest frustration was that you only talk about one product for 15 or 30 seconds,” says Karine Blake, marketing director for parent company Lactalis American Group.  “But here in specialty cheeses, there’s so much education to be done [and] so [many] stories and romance to be told.”

So, the brand abandoned television advertising in 2011. Seeking a riper, more interactive channel, Président began dabbling in digital. The cheese connoisseur launched its latest interactive initiative, The Art of Cheese, at the beginning of April and broadened its digital palate into social. This new digital-social flavor combination enables the brand to help educate consumers about the specialty cheese category and drive engagement.

Getting a Gouda-mount of data

Transitioning from traditional to digital media wasn’t the only challenge Président faced in recent years. After conducting a series of focus groups and shopper observation studies, the cheese brand discovered that many consumers felt overwhelmed by the specialty cheese category.

“Not only are they intimidated by the product itself—because the tastes are very foreign and they’re not familiar with them—but they’re also intimated by the shelf,” Blake says. “When they get to the store and they look in the specialty cheese section, it’s usually cluttered [and] disorganized. Many products from many different origins and categories are mixed together, and it’s hard to distinguish what you really need and what you’re really going to like.”

Offering a wide selection

Keeping this information in mind, Président created the Art of Cheese campaign to guide consumers through the specialty cheese experience. The hub of the campaign is the Art of Cheese website, which includes a selection of contests, coupons, and mouth-watering images and product information. The site also features recipes and entertaining ideas from popular bloggers. Not only do bloggers extend the reach of Président’s content, but they also provide a sense of authenticity and consumer trust.

“People can relate more because the stories are real and they can go make those dishes and recipes at home,” says Laure Habbouse, senior marketing manager for Lactalis American Group.

In addition to the site, Président is promoting the Art of Cheese campaign through search and paid media, including featuring banner ads on its retailers’ site, as well as lifestyle and food websites.

Wheeling into social

Président added other new flavors to its marketing mix by partnering with HUGE and launching Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter accounts. Although this is the first time Président has leveraged Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, the brand has dabbled with Facebook in the past, Blake says. It’s past Facebook foray included launching the Skinny Cheese Facebook page—a source for fat-free cheese recipes and education—in 2011. Now, the brand promotes the entire specialty cheese category across its website and social channels and engages more with consumers, Blake says. In fact, it’s this interactivity that inspired Président to dive deeper into the social realm.

“We don’t think consumers want to hear from the brand,” Blake says. “They actually want to own the brand, own the products, and make it their own.”

Président’s Web and social content enables the brand to convey the versatility and visual appeal of its products. However, Blake says that the brand has to strike a balance between portraying delicious recipe images and coming off as intimidating.

 “We didn’t want [the pictures] to look like paintings in a museum. We wanted them to be real,” Blake says. “[We] don’t want it to look so beautiful that the consumers didn’t want to touch it…We want people to think it’s actually easy, versatile, approachable, but so beautiful that you want to eat it.”

Mild results

Although Blake declined to share the initial results of the campaign, she says that the brand has been “overwhelmed” in terms of consumer response. According to the brand’s social pages, Président has accumulated 137 Facebook followers, 132 Pinterest followers, 81 Instagram followers, and 51 Twitter followers so far. And while the brand’s results are somewhat pungent at the moment, Blake says the brand will track a range of metrics—including sales, awareness, and impressions—as the campaign runs throughout Président’s peak seasons of Easter, summer, and the winter holidays.

“It’s not tracking for the sake of making sure that everything is going easily,” Blake says. “It’s making sure that we’re having the right attitude about morphing and moving.”  

But perhaps the lessons Président has tasted so far are more savory than the initial results. For example, learning to relinquish control in the digital world is one lesson that has left a permanent aftertaste. “TV is very directive [and] it’s very one-way: This is our message, this is how we’re going to say it, take it or leave it,” Blake says. “Once you decide to go digital and to work with different partners…you have to be comfortable with who you are, know exactly who you are, and just let go.”

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