Terra Chips Leverage Facebook Around Election

Terra Chips With the rapidly approaching presidential election compelling the public's attention and dominating social and other media, a line of red, white and blue snacking chips would seem to be well-positioned to ride the wave.

This point has not been lost on Terra Stripes & Blues (S&B) chips--a line introduced last year around the July 4th holiday by Terra, the "exotic" vegetable and potato chips brand within the natural/organic food and personal care products Hain Celestial Group.

On Tuesday, the brand will launch a "Chip in for Change" campaign on Facebook. The concept: Tap into the patriotic zeitgeist and give Facebook users a channel to share their opinions not only with each other, but the new president--while also conveying that consumers by no means need to wait until next July 4th to enjoy Terra's S&B chips. (The chips derive their colors from blue and sweet potatoes and candy-striped beets grown specifically for Terra.)

The campaign centers on a Facebook product page (http://apps.facebook.com/presidentialadvisor/) where users will be able to register their ideas and priorities regarding changes that they would like the new president to address, via a virtual "Chip in for Change" suggestion box. The input will be gathered into a virtual gallery where users can read one another's perspectives.

In addition, users will be invited to become "fans" of the Chips for Change "movement" by downloading the branded application and adding it to their personal Facebook profiles and/or sending it to Facebook friends.

The kicker: Prior to the inauguration of the new president, all user-generated input from the campaign will be compiled and delivered to the president-elect--along with a case of S&B chips.

The campaign--created by Story Worldwide, which has employed its philosophy of "storytelling" and "narrative branding" as the keys to brand success for Unilever, Coty, Lexus and others--is a grassroots approach to counteracting consumer and retailer perceptions that S&B chips are best-suited for Independence Day celebrations, confirms Elizabeth Poon, category group manager, snacks and beverages for Hain Celestial.

The Terra S&B chips met with "much success" at launch, gaining quick distribution and display merchandising, says Poon. "However, since the launch, the velocity on the product has slowed" because it is perceived as associated with the holiday, she acknowledges.

The challenge: Conveying that the chips, which have "strong aesthetic appeal" in addition to their natural origins, taste and availability in sea-salt and BBQ flavors (the top flavors within the chip category) make them a highly viable candidate for year-round snacking, says Poon. The brand needed a "new dimension" to communicate this message, she adds.

Enter Facebook, which is a natural fit for S&B's target audience: Savvy consumers with a mean age range in the mid-30s to mid-40s and higher-than-average household income and education levels, according to Darren Gillmor, VP, business development for Story Worldwide.

All Hain Celestial and Terra products fall into the premium category, but S&B chips are somewhat pricier than other Terra offerings (selling online for $5.19 for a 6.5-ounce package), and a significant portion of their customer base consists of urbanites--particularly in the Northeast, reports Gillmor. All of this also jives well with Facebook's user demographics.

More than 10% of Facebook's 10 million-plus users are in the marketing "sweet spot" for S&B chips, Gillmor says.

Aside from buying some pay-per-click search on Facebook, the campaign is relying on viral dynamics. Hain and Story Worldwide believe that Terra's core tagline of being "never ordinary" snacks ties in perfectly with "an election that's far from ordinary" because of its focus on change and its "historic importance," Gillmor notes. "We believe that the campaign's approach is novel enough, and compelling enough, to make people want to participate and drive the viral element," he says.

Does Terra believe--or more important, will its customer/prospect base believe--that a new president facing a host of critical challenges will find time to review citizen input gathered through a commercially sponsored channel?

"Obviously, we'll have to leave it up to the new president as to whether this gets his attention," says Gillmor. "But we see this as a 'to-do' list that will hopefully represent the views of people with informed opinions about where the country should be going.

"Yes, its origins are commercial, but it is unique, and we like to think that it will be read. It would seem shortsighted for a new president to pay no attention to it, or not to at least have his people take a look at it."

Tags: food, politics
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