It's crunch time at Kettle Brand Potato Chips.
The brand's new "Crunch Proud" campaign -- centered on the launch of a virtual "Loud Food Club" tied in with social media and in-store promotions -- is all about "celebrating the crunch" that is one of the distinctive attributes most loved by Kettle's fans, says Kettle brand director Julie Dunmire.
"We wanted to harness that attribute in a fun way, and we came up with the idea of some kind of club headed by a 'super fan,'" she says. The resulting Loud Food Club is housed on a microsite whose name trumpets the core message: CrunchProud.com.
The club offers several levels of engagement, points out Scott Coe, account director for Kettle's new agency, Denver-based Cultivator Advertising & Design.
Site visitors are greeted by that anonymous "super fan"/club leader, armed with a bullhorn, who urges them to join the club and "crunch loud and crunch proud with fellow crunch fans" who "aren't afraid to cause a ruckus and crunch with pride in public."
To join, fans are asked to take a pledge ("I promise to break the silence of snacking ...") and download a club membership kit that includes an interoffice disclaimer email, pictographic "crunch courtesy" instructions, an LFC pencil flag, and "Loud Food Crunch Caution" signage.
Another tab offers information about the hand-crafted method used to make the chips -- the key to their crunch factor -- and the quality of the potatoes and all-natural seasonings used ("all-natural" being a core brand promise for Kettle, which is the #1 natural potato chip brand, according to Nielsen).
Members can also witness a "crunch-off" in which Kettle's noise is pitted against other loud sounds (including a monster truck, a lion's roar and an electric guitar), access a $1 coupon, and enter a sweeps for the chance to win a full year's supply of the chips.
Club members are, of course, also encouraged to use Facebook and Twitter to recruit other proud crunchers, and the brand's Facebook page and Twitter account are being employed to drive fans to click into the microsite, become club members and enter the free chips sweeps.
Heavy social media usage is nothing new for Kettle, which posts and tweets continuously and makes a point of launching new engagement campaigns every few months to tap into and build on the brand's "huge fan love," says Dunmire.
The summer "Crunch Proud" campaign will be replaced by a new approach come fall, and the Loud Noises Club, while ongoing, is expected to "grow organically" among Kettle's customer base, rather than be a main focus of future efforts, she explains.
The current campaign, targeting moms and men, also includes supermarket in-store displays promoting the crunch proud message and the online club, as well as newspaper FSI's.
In February, Salem, Ore.-based Kettle Foods, Inc. was acquired from Lion Capital LLP by Diamond Foods, Inc., and now operates as a Diamond subsidiary. Kettle reported audited consolidated earnings of $250.5 million for the fiscal year ending September 2009 (up from $236.1 million in the previous fiscal), according to BusinessWeek.
Kettle's portfolio includes four varieties and more than 20 flavors of all-natural potato chips, plus nut butters and trail mixes. Its products are distributed in North America, Japan, Western Europe and the U.K.