PR Success Stories: Chiquita Banana Press Release Campaign by Zenzi Communications

chiquita bananaZenzi Communications is working with Chiquita on a PR campaign that promotes Chiquita Banana Sticker Design Contest. The contest that ran between June 21, 2010 and July 18, 2010, invited consumers to visit www.EatAChiquita.com and put their own spin on the company’s iconic brand image. The purpose of the campaign, was: “to encourage consumers to interact with the Chiquita brand and make the brand their own.” – as Judy Chen, Corporate Marketing Group Leader at Chiquita, stated in the official press release.

It’s this press release we will be discussing today, in the pilot of the PR Success Stories: The Press Release series that begins today at Everything PR News and will bring you a new case-study every Thursday, weekly. With such real-case studies from various PR companies around the world, we hope to give you a strong basis for your future endeavors.

In an exclusive interview, via HARO, Zenzi’s Senior Account Executive Erin Coller told us that the official press release has resulted in 26,792,425 impressions to date, all from direct pick-up of the release.

The press release went live on Jun 22, 2010; and it was distributed via Business Wire. Among the PR strategies used in this particular campaign, Zenzi also developed creative banana press to continue momentum of widespread coverage in print and online; targeted design blogs and industry media and promoted the contest via Facebook and Twitter to design/art schools, graphic designers, and marketers.

Lessons from Zenzi’s Chiquita Press Release

  • It’s all in the title

    Many times content writers and blogging gurus like Darren Rowse repeat (sometimes exasperatingly) that the title is one of the most important elements of a good post (article, press release and so on). In this article, although Rowse focuses the conversation on blog titles, the rules he describes are general for all online content. Titles matter because:

    • they are the first part of your content listed by the search engines;
    • they appear in RSS feeds;
    • they may be used by other online publishers to link back to your content;
    • they appear on social media and social bookmarking sites;

    When a title is not engaging, people have the tendency to ignore it. Zenzi’s title for the Chiquita Banana Sticker Design Contest couldn’t be ignored: A-Peeling Brand Invites Consumers to Personalize Chiquita Sticker.

    A creative title, appealing, as suggested, that intrigued, called to action, and added a personal touch to what otherwise could sound like a dull announcement.

  • It continues with the opening paragraph

    Zenzi’s copywriting skills are flawless. Instead of opening with a boring description of Chiquita as a “market leader,” they personalized the message, calling to action from the start:

    If you ever wanted to get your artwork in the hands of millions, here’s your chance to personalize the famous blue Chiquita sticker that has adorned countless numbers of the world’s bananas for nearly 50 years.

  • Avoid emphasis on what could be perceived as negatives

    The prizes offered by Chiquita to the contest finalists are not that extraordinary:

    The top 50 finalists will receive a prize package of an EatAChiquita.com t-shirt and merchandise from Chiquita’s Shop A Peel Zazzle store (www.Zazzle.com/ShopAPeel(TM)) customized with their very own sticker design.

    So we know what they are, but we don’t know their monetary value, which, according to Chiquita’s own contest rules, is s $36.00. In addition, from the 50 finalists, 18 will also see their designs printed on Chiquita banana stickers that will be placed on Chiquita bananas and distributed in grocery stores in the United States beginning on or around November 1, 2010 and ending on or around December 1, 2010.

    The negative issue here is that the prizes are not a bit more consistent. Chiquita is boosting its public image through a PR campaign at a minimum cost. A designer doesn’t really care about winning a promotional t-shirt. What a designer really wants is a portfolio, recognition, adding a name like Chiquita to his/her rooster of clients, etc.

    Although the finalists will be announced officially on EatAChiquita.com™ on August 23, there is no mention whether the 18 winners will see their names printed alongside their designs on the Chiquita banana stickers. But if you look at the contest entries to date, you’ll see about 1,098 designs lining up the Chiquita banana sticker wall. So I’d say the campaign is a success. Zenzi managed to create buzz and generate interest with virtually no story to tell.

Press Releases Work

You probably heard many times that press releases don’t work. Only an unskilled marketer can make such a claim. Press releases do work: they need the right angle and an appropriate hook. A contest, like the one organized by Chiquita, cannot appeal to a professional designer like David Airey for example. But it does appeal to teenagers who enjoy playing with an online game, and it also appeals to other people with artistic inclination. Plus… it’s fun.

The most important aspect, however, is the appeal to a young market segment – which is a brilliant strategy. In the end, Chiquita’s consumers don’t really belong to a clear segment of the population. Who doesn’t go bananas for bananas? But building brand loyalty from an early age is important in this business. Chiquita has to compete against Bonita, Del Monte and Dole, all very strong brands. And every little helps.

Why did the press release generate so many impressions? The title, for one, is brilliant. Other than that, Zenzi had the advantage of working with a keyword combination that generates approximately 245 searches a day (“Chiquita banana”) and a brand name that is searched by 326 people daily in average. In addition to search engine traffic, Zenzi employed social media, and promoted the contest avidly to other online publications and printed publications.

The contest will now be added to the “wall of fame” of how crowdsourcing could be used in a PR campaign. And Chiquita is not the only example. To date, the United States Postal Service (ergo a US federal institution) is running two such contests on Prova.fm for its Hawaii Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Boxes. Crowdsourcing is a great way to boost brand awareness and to encourage customers to interact with the brand. It’s the future of marketing, whether anti-spec advocates like it or not. Sure, the practice can only be fair when the prizes become fairer. Some promotional items worth 36 USD per package don’t really fall in the category, but this is not the matter in discussion now.

We are discussing a press release and its strategy, and the conclusions are easy to resume: a great title, very good use of keywords, brilliant employment of social media strategies.  Zenzi is definitely a PR company that can put together a successful campaign. They have the writing skills, the talent and the passion needed to spread the message.

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