Pinnacle Foods Group's 120-year-old Log Cabin Syrup has just launched its first Facebook page and Twitter feed as part of a campaign promoting Wednesdays as "Breakfast for Dinner Day."
The campaign, like other recent Log Cabin efforts, focuses heavily on promoting that the syrup products contain no high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), as well as reinforcing the brand as a "family tradition."
Actually, Log Cabin reformulated its Original and Lite varieties to replace HFCS with sugar back in 2009 -- making it, according to the company, the only HFCS-free branded table syrup (there is also a sugar-free variety). But with HFCS-free momentum continuing to build among national brands in a wide range of categories, the claim is clearly becoming an increasingly effective differentiator.
This February, to mark "National Hot Breakfast Month," Log Cabin released results of a "Breakfast Table Traditions" family survey. Among other points, the results showed 94% of the 1,000 adult women and men polled by phone confirming that they start the day with breakfast, 56% saying they make a conscious effort to choose breakfast options "they feel good about for themselves and their families," and nearly half (49%) stating that they are trying to remove HFCS from their families' diets.
The brand's PR efforts coupled highlights of the survey results with messaging encouraging families to "update their breakfast traditions by sitting down to share a hot breakfast they can feel good about that's high fructose corn syrup-free."
More recently, some mommy blogs have been running a "Special Family Breakfast Log Cabin the No High Fructose Corn Syrup Giveaway" contest, with prize packages including the syrups, a cast iron griddle and spatula, and branded placemats and T-shirts.
The new PR campaign declaring Wednesdays "Breakfast for Dinner Day" cites additional results from the breakfast traditions survey -- notably, that 60% of respondents indicated they have breakfast for dinner at least once per month. The messaging describes breakfast for dinner as a "fun, fast and affordable way to get the family together on a busy weeknight," again noting the HFCS-free element and the context of Log Cabin as a family tradition.
As part of the campaign, the brand is holding fundraisers for regional organizations and in-store sampling events featuring pancake dinners -- and is employing its new Facebook and Twitter presences in part to let consumers know when these events will be coming to their areas. The social media networks are also offering polls related to the breakfast-for-dinner theme (and frequent "no HFCS" mentions in posts).
Meanwhile, on a separate front, Log Cabin has been getting heat from Vermont -- specifically, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch and Vermont Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee -- about Log Cabin All Natural syrup (a blend of sugar and 4% maple syrup), launched last year and promoted as the first nationally distributed all-natural syrup with "no artificial colors or flavors."
Last September, Welch and Allbee wrote the Food and Drug Administration, asking it to investigate whether the brand was violating FDA guidelines by marketing the syrup variety as natural, given that it contained ingredients such as caramel color, xanthan gum and citric acid.
While emphasizing that All Natural complies with all FDA regulations -- the FDA has never defined "natural," although it has voluntary guidelines regarding adding color (even from a natural source) to a natural product -- Pinnacle Foods quickly responded by agreeing to remove caramel coloring from the product. However, the company pointed out that xanthan gum and citric acid are "natural plant-derived ingredients."
Welch and Allbee called the removal of caramel color a "step in the right direction," but continue to maintain that the product's packaging (jugs "nearly identical" to those used by Vermont's maple syrup producers, in their words) and all-natural name mislead consumers into confusing it with real Vermont maple syrup. The Log Cabin product, they said, is often shelved near real maple syrup in stores, whereas table syrups are normally shelved apart from syrups.
In the latest volley, Welch and Allbee, saying Log Cabin had "ignored" repeated calls for it to change its packaging, in mid-March sent a letter to top executives at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Costco, Safeway, Supervalu, Hannaford and Price Chopper asking the chains to shelve Log Cabin All Natural apart from real maple syrup.