The drama series, "Cane," is set in South Florida, where a Cuban-American family headed by a character played by Emmy and Golden Globe awards-winning Jimmy Smits runs the Lucia Duque rum and sugar business.
First Flavor, which created the technology, calls the campaign the first "taste-drive" ad campaign. The flavor strip is wrapped in a thin, tamper-evident pouch and dissolves in the consumer's mouth much like a breath strip.
George Schweitzer, president of CBS Marketing, jokes with Marketing Daily that his department has been on a "flavor sampling marathon over the summer. We're always looking to find things that jump off the page and into readers' minds and hearts ... and now onto their tongues."
CBS discovered First Flavor through The Initiative, a New York media, marketing and digital agency that had read media reports about the company and placed the insert for CBS. The two-page advertisement promotes the season premiere of "Cane" while driving consumers to luciaduquerum.com, where they can enter a search for "The Duque Rum Girl," who will be cast in an upcoming episode of "Cane."
The campaign, which Schweitzer describes as going from "fiction to fact and back again," will be featured in "Cane" as part of the script. The family will be seen discussing how to market its Duque rum, and members will talk about creating a search for the Duque Rum girl. The ad itself--at least the first page of the two-page print ad--will make an appearance, as will the Web site, and the chosen Duque Rum girl will be featured on the show. "The producers are into integrative marketing in a big way," says Schweitzer, who adds that the first page of the print ad will look like a regular ad for a liquor brand.
Bala Cynwyd, Penn.-based First Flavor plans to roll out similar launches over the next two months for "major food and beverage and oral care corporations," says Barry Gesserman, vice president/sales and marketing and COO for First Flavor. Gesserman has 25 years of experience with Campbell Soup, Empire Kosher Poultry, Vlasic Foods and Stroh Brewery, and is a winner of Campbell's "Top Gun" brand marketing award.
President/CEO Jay Minkoff, a "serial entrepreneur," tells Marketing Daily First Flavor is working with a toothpaste brand to put shelf-edge dispensers in a supermarket chain next month. "They know that if people try the flavor, they tend to buy the product," he says of the marketer behind that effort.
"What we want to do is empower consumers through our product to be able to taste what a product is before they buy it," says First Flavor's Minkoff. The application is similar to product sampling, he admits, but much cheaper. He estimates it costs 60 cents to $1 per person to sample a product, but only a tenth of that to put flavor strips in magazines, direct mail, at events or in stores.
Currently, First Flavor is working with food and beverage companies on nutraceutical and vitamin- and mineral-enhanced products. These companies, he says, are using focus groups to test the strips.
The CBS "Cane" promo is the first public implementation of First Flavor's product, says Minkoff. "We didn't mean for it to be a buzz generator for a fictitious product for a TV show, although we love it to be used for this. We thought of it as a taste-marketing vehicle for actual products."
First Flavor was established by Adnan Aziz, founder and executive vice president, who came up with the idea of flavor strips in college while watching a scene from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" in which the characters get to taste flavored wallpaper.