MarketingMonitor: Butterkist Case Study

CASE STUDY: Butterkist Popcorn

Butterkist nets 34,000 competition entries and hefty brand exposure through clever contra.

Butterkist, Butterkist, Ra, Ra, Ra. Right? Unless you lived the life of a hermit, Butterkist's ubiquitous cinema advertising will undoubtedly have left its mark on you. The link between popcorn and film is almost genetic. You might have not noticed, but Butterkist hasn't been available in cinemas for years, which has made the option of cinema advertising, less than desirable. After all, why drive foyer sales of someone else's popcorn? Combined with the fact that distribution through Blockbusters was not an immediate option, it was clear that another strategy was required to build the link with film, particularly 'movies in the home'.

Cadbury Trebor Bassett turned to marketing agency Market Tiers 4DC to maintain the link between the Butterkist brand and the world of film. The brief: to make Butterkist the snack to be munching in front of that video or DVD. A route was needed to develop the link in the minds of the target audience between the experience of watching films at home and eating Butterkist popcorn. Given the appetite among movie buffs for the Internet, an online campaign seemed appropriate, but what sort of campaign would be effective for a well-established FMCG brand?

One option was to create a brand-based website, while an alternative was to develop a Butterkist-branded film website that could be used as a marketing tool. An editorial heavy site with such a strong brand association might have a credibility problem and, illustrated by recent 'downsizing' at many online publishers, running a content heavy website can be an expensive proposition. Would the end justify the means?

Instead, why not take advantage of a film site with an established audience? Market Tiers 4DC, thought this the best route and developed a wide-ranging sponsorship deal with an existing film website - and one that was fortuitously named from Butterkist's point of view, Carlton's

Butterkist became a sponsor of the website. The Butterkist logo and branding appear on the video and DVD charts, as well as on competition buttons that appear across the site. Competition entrants that correctly answer a film-related question - for example, which singer appears in High Fidelity (see below for answer)? - enter a monthly draw to win a DVD player and DVDs.

With the Butterkist logo carrying the line 'Stay home, watch the movie, eat Butterkist popcorn' there's little doubt what message this piece of marketing is seeking to communicate. In return, the URL has appeared on 20m packs of Butterkist popcorn, including all pack sizes and flavours (Toffee, Maple syrup, Cinema-style and multi-pack). The package included activity over a period of 12 months, kicking off in June 2000.

As Market Tiers 4DC director and Head Of New Media, Russell Goldsmith puts it, this was a "no brainer". The deal was a straightforward 'contra' with both Butterkist and benefiting from both from the connection between the brands and exposure on both sides. Aside from the agency fee, no payment was involved.

Both parties were looking for a substantial growth in customer numbers. In terms of measurable results, there were 34,000 entries to the online competition between August 2000 and March 2001, of whom 4,000 opted-in to receive further information, creating a useful database for sampling purposes. The site, which has content deals with MSN and Freeserve, recorded 1.59m page impressions in May 2001.

Prompted awareness of the Butterkist brand has risen to 69% according to Cadbury Trebor Bassett, and the company believes that web activity in the shape of the deal has been instrumental in that increase.

Karen Rosenstraus, brand manager at Cadbury Trebor Bassett, comments: "The past year has exceeded all expectations for the Butterkist team. Although the number of hits and entries we have achieved since the launch of shows the strength of the link that Butterkist and share. Beyond this it has been difficult to measure the success of the online campaign. Indications are positive that it has maintained prompted awareness levels for the brand in the absence of above-the-line support. However, it is difficult to make a definitive link between online support viewership and sales response."

For Market Tiers 4DC, the key result is that the deal brought Butterkist a level of exposure that it wouldn't have otherwise been able to secure. The strategy circumvented the problems of a solely brand-based site and the expense of a Butterkist-branded film website by working with an established credible destination website.

For, having its URL on Butterkist packaging represented an opportunity to reach a mass audience without the expense of running a major above-the-line campaign.

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Market Tiers 4DC