So, what are your plans for National Potato Chip Day? What -- you forgot it occurs on March 14?
Terra Chips and longtime partner JetBlue are hoping you'll mark this major holiday by entering a spring promotion featuring a travel sweepstakes.
The Hain Celestial Group chips brand and the airline, which have had a relationship since JetBlue launched 11 years ago by dint of their sharing the color blue -- Terra Blues Potato Chips are the airline's official snack -- are using social media, media relations and blogger outreach focused on the NPC Day hook, in addition to an array of other promotional efforts, to get the word out about the contest.
The "Blue Chip Getaway" sweeps, offering a grand prize of a trip for four (two adults, two children) -- including JetBlue airfare, of course -- to a Turks and Caicos resort owned by Beaches (also a JetBlue partner) is being promoted on the Facebook pages of all three brands, driving brand fans to enter on TerraChips.com. The brands are also including promos for the sweeps in email blasts to their opt-in databases, and JetBlue is tweeting it up.
While the contest was posted online on March 1, the official sweeps announcement and most of the promotions have not yet commenced (one email blast has been sent). Nevertheless, there have already been more than 5,000 entries, reports Joe Wilbeck, brand manager for Terra and Hain's other snack brands.
Still to come: on-pack stickers flagging the sweeps on Terra Chips bags; a national newspaper coupon FSI; distribution of 1 million coupons on JetBlue flights; and video promotions on JetBlue seatback monitors. Total estimated impressions: 45 million.
The first 50,000 people to enter the sweeps -- which also offers 10 first prizes of a pair of round-trip flight certificates to any of the 64 cities in JetBlue's route network and 100 second prizes of a free case of Terra Chips -- will receive an email with an offer code for 5% off their next JetBlue flight.
While Terra and JetBlue have done many promotions over the years, this is only the second major sweeps they have run together. Last year's first effort, also featuring trip prizes, went viral among the brands' fans and generated 80,000 entries, according to Wilbeck.
In JetBlue's first year, 250,000 bags of Terra Blues were distributed on board; last year, distribution exceeded 5 million, or eight bags per minute every day of the year, the brand manager points out.
Outside of this major partnership, couponing and some print advertising, Terra Chips' general marketing approach tends to be grassroots, Wilbeck says. In particular, the brand uses its "unique and topical" aspects -- particularly its all-natural "exotic vegetables" and other ingredients and the chips' benefit of having 40% less fat than other leading potato chip brands -- to general media and blogger coverage, he explains.
Terra Chips -- and JetBlue -- also put out a lot of messaging about their relationship with LaJoie Growers, the family-owned farm in Northern Maine that grows the vast majority (3 million pounds per year) of the blue potatoes that make Terra Blues naturally bluish-purple in color. "A lot of people are surprised and interested to learn about blue potatoes through media coverage, and our brands are proud of having contributed to the growth of this family farm," Wilbeck notes.
Terra Chips, launched in 1990 out of a catering business and sold initially as a specialty item in Macy's, is now distributed in Whole Foods and major grocery chains and other mass retail outlets throughout the country.
The brand, which now has scores of chip varieties, has seen its "exotic" natural vegetable ingredients core benefit emulated by a growing number of companies in the highly fragmented snacks industry. "When we started, no one had ever heard of chips made with sweet potatoes -- never mind yucca, parsnips or ruby taro," says Wilbeck.
But Terra Chips isn't overly concerned: Among other things, it's hard to beat that secure feeling that comes from knowing that new brand fans are being created up in the skies at the rate of eight bags per minute.