Russell Stover/Case Study
Clara and Russell Stover began making candy in the kitchen of their Denver bungalow home in 1923. The company initially employed 7 employees and was initially known as “Mrs. Stover’s Bungalow Candies.” By 1924, the Stover’s had stores in Denver, Kansas City, Lincoln, Omaha and St. Louis and opened their first factory in Kansas City four years later in1928.
Today Russell Stover (www.russellstover.com) is the largest producer of boxed chocolates in the U.S. and is one of the leading producers of specialty chocolates (e.g., sugar-free) in the country.
With the popularity of the low-carb diets and concern among consumers on lowering their intake of carbohydrates, Russell Stover made plans to launch a line of low-carb chocolates. Russell Stover’s marketing strategy was to reach over 6 million consumers a month through a mixture of advertising and PR. The company hired INK to conduct an intensive PR/media relations campaign to launch their new addition.
Russell Stover wanted major national and local coverage highlighting the new treats that were an ideal fit for people who were practicing a low-carb lifestyle. Russell Stover would be competing with the highly publicized Atkins/low carb diet and their candy products and others who were launching low-carb options.
The results of taste testing with INK’s PR initiative generated positive word-of -mouth buzz resulting in the chocolates flying off the shelves.
INK immediately targeted television morning programs and food editors across the country. The national morning programs offered an excellent opportunity to reach Russell Stover’s target demographic. INK positioned the story as an opportunity for the morning programs to directly involve their audiences in the show by having a “live” in-studio taste test of Russell Stover’s low-carb chocolates versus other “regular” leading-brand chocolates. Producers seized on the idea, resulting in a a number of television placements including segments on ABC’s The View, NBC’s Today and FOX & Friends.
As for print media, INK targeted two groups of reporters and editors. The first group included newspaper editors and reporters who typically wrote about new food products, as well as reporters who had recently written about the low-carb Atkins® diet. In addition to just contacting each one and sending him/her samples to taste, product photos, etc., as is standard practice in the industry, we made sure we took the extra step and continually linked our pitches to the related low-carb phenomenon in order to keep the story fresh and newsworthy.
The other group of reporters we focused on was reporters at large, main-stream consumer publications. The nature of these publications required a story that are national in scope, not simply a story about a new low-carb product. To garner their interest we created a low-carb trend story that focused on the national explosion of new mainstream low-carb foods (e.g., Russell Stover’s low-carb chocolates) and beverages (e.g., Michelob Ultra), the size of the budding industry, the revenue potential it offered the companies involved, etc. This approach gave the story a much broader appeal and gave us the ability to go after larger national media outlets that typically do not cover food-related stories. This tactic netted Russell Stover coverage in a variety of print outlets including the Associated Press, USA Today and People magazine.
162 Million Impressions
More than 162 million impressions in top broadcast and print news outlets. From ABC’s The View, NBC’s Today Show, FOX & Friends to trend pieces in the Associated Press, USA Today and People magazine.
The Boston Herald tapped some serious snack lovers put the low-carbohydrate treats to the test. Snackers “loved it and couldn’t tell they were low-carb”.
Mike Hegadus of CNBC – Squawk Box shot a business profile segment on Russell Stover
The Food Channel “Unwrapped”
KUSA in Denver featured two stories “Operation Sweet Tooth” and the art of making candy segment “Hand Dippers”.
USA Today included Russell Stover low-carb in a Valentines Day story “Love on the light side”
INK was able to secure several product reviews in national and regional broadcast press coverage that included ABC The View, NBC Today Show, FOX and Friends and Good Day Philadelphia as well as print coverage in the Associated Press, USA Today, Knight Ridder Newswire, and the Boston Herald. Feature stories on Russell Stover’s business appeared on CNBC Squawk Box, Unwrapped – Food Channel and local Denver Broadcast. INK secured press coverage in local news outlets from Austin to Arkansas, Chicago to St. Louis, San Jose to Tampa and more…as well as local radio coverage.