Stacy's Eyes Namesakes: Call It Eponymous Marketing

Call it eponymous marketing. In preparation for Super Bowl Sunday, the maker of Stacy's pita chips, soy thin crisps and bagel chips is sending 133,000 party kits to people named Stacy. Kits are timed to coincide with the Thursday launch of a new Web site, CallingAllStacys.com. The URL will appear on packaging.

"It's never been done before," said Steve Sears, Stacy's director of marketing, about the outreach to people all having a name Stacy. "There were no guidebooks on how to go about it. We just cast as light a net as possible using direct mail databases. It was a little bit art, a little bit science."

The company, which boasts more than $30 million in sales per year, is hoping the strategy will raise its national penetration, from the current 35%-40% range to the 75%-80% range. "We're going at this very aggressively," said Sears. According to IRI, Stacy's market share of pita chips in 2006 was 42%. IRI also said that pita chips were the fastest-growing segment of the salty snacks category.

Up to now, the 10-year-old company has relied on word of mouth and charitable giveaways to take it from a cart in Boston's financial district to where it is today. The epony-marketing campaign is the first time the company has paid for a marketing effort. "We hope this gets people talking about the brand," said Sears. The company will include a retailer request form in all the party kits it sends out.

Stacy's is also launching its first national advertising campaign. Full-page ads depicting a photographed setting with an illustration of co-founder Stacy Madison will appear in a dozen magazines, Sears said, including the Feb. 19 issue of People. Ads will also appear online.

The company's market research found the top 10 cities with the most Stacys are: Minneapolis/St. Paul; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Ind.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Dallas/Ft. Worth; Jacksonville, Fla.; Denver, Colo.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Nashville, Tenn.

While the direct mail campaign focuses only on men and women who spell their names as Madison does, the new Web site will allow others who use alternative spellings as well as "Stacy wanna-bes" to sign up for free products.

"It's the ultimate grassroots campaign," Sears said.

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