PR Strategies – Sara Lee vs. Pepperidge Farm
We’ve all seen the commercials of various products being advertised by Pepperidge Farm and Sara Lee, thanks to the creative endeavors of their PR campaigns. And while both brands remain successful amidst many other competing brands, each campaign has its differences.
Pepperidge Farm – Pepperidge Farm was founded by Margaret Rudkin and officially began in 1939. For many years Margaret managed the successful business, churning out breads and sweets using only the finest ingredients. In fact, she was such a big believer in only using the finest, freshest ingredients in her products that, during WWII, she slowed down production because those particular ingredients were more difficult to acquire. She wasn’t willing to sacrifice quality for the sake of doing business. This dedication to quality is something that’s survived the years and is a huge reason Pepperidge Farm products are still so popular among consumers.
In 1961, Pepperidge Farm was sold to Campbell Soup, a move that sat well with Margaret given Campbell Soup’s emphasis on family and being family run. This emphasis on family is another quality characteristic of Pepperidge Farm and is a primary feature of Pepperidge Farm’s PR campaigns of recent years.
Pepperidge Farm recently launched PR campaigns like “Connecting through Cookies,” focusing on helping women improve their social lives. “Goldfish Tales” is another campaign launched to “inspire parents to celebrate the everyday family moments that matter most.”
So the primary message behind PR campaigns launched on behalf of Pepperidge Farm? Family matters. Zeno Group is the PR firm of record for the company.
Sara Lee – Sara Lee hasn’t been around as long as Pepperidge Farm. In fact, before 1985, Sara Lee went by another name, Consolidated Foods. The Sara Lee name started in 1956 when Consolidated Foods decided to buy a bakery chain in Chicago known as Kitchens of Sara Lee from a man named Charles Lubin. Charles’ daughter was named Sara Lee, and so he named his bakeries after her.
In 2011, after focusing on building its “food, beverage, and household and body care businesses around the world” as part of the company’s transformation plan to remain competitive, Sara Lee decided to split the company in two – Hillshire Farms and D.E Master Blenders 1753. Hillshire Farms makes up the North American unit while D.E Master Blenders 1753 makes up the international unit. The move garnered a lot of press attention, some good and some bad.
Despite it all, the Hillshire Farms unit of Sara Lee remains successful, and consumers can still find Sara Lee and Hillshire Farms products on the shelves in grocery stores, right next to Pepperidge Farm products. There’s something to be said about the strength of Sara Lee’s PR campaigns and PR teams that, even after so many steps in the company’s transformation, it remains a successful business. One might argue that public relations saved the brand.
So while both brands have found success over the years, there are differences. Pepperidge Farms built a unique name for itself by staying family-centric and committed to producing quality products made with quality ingredients. Sara Lee, while not as family-centric, produces products the public wants. And at the end of the day, isn’t that all that matters?
A business is only as successful as consumers make it. If consumers don’t want what a company is producing, it’ll fail. And right now, neither Pepperidge Farm nor Sara Lee seems to be failing.