Mustard Communications' Hunt For the Nation's Herb Hero

Timing: January– June 2011

Objective

Generic consumer campaign for The British Herb Trade Association to encourage consumers to use fresh herbs as part of their weekly cooking repertoire, rather than just for dinner parties or special occasions. Briefed to target mainstream consumers as well as children.

Strategy and Implementation

Created the Hunt for the Nation’s Herb Heroes, a national digital cookery competition looking for ‘real food from real people’ who are transforming everyday meals with fresh herbs. Tapping into the popularity of video sharing websites, where many Brits are only too ready to show off in front of the camera, contestants were asked to create a short video of themselves cooking with fresh herbs.  They were encouraged to not only show off their cooking skills and enthusiasm for fresh herbs but also their ‘star quality’ as a presenter. They were then invited to upload the video onto Vimeo, via  www.fresh-herbs.co.uk, where the public could vote for their favourites. 

The competition was fronted by Masterchef presenter John Torode with categories for adults and children, with a national cook off in London for the finalists vying for a total prize purse of £3,200.

The enthusiasm of the entrants and the standard of videos did not disappoint with recipe such as a Heston Blumenthal-esque recipe for herby pancakes with basil ice cream from Fiona Sutherland, however most of the recipes were mainstream quick and easy everyday dishes, from herby meat balls with pasta to lentil and thyme soup.

The cook off was videoed and posted onto a new herbs YouTube channel  http://www.youtube.com/user/FreshHerbs1 along with the individual videos. Vimeo and Veoh channels were also targeted and collective views currently stand at around 2,000.   Recipes were also shared on facebook, which attracted over 600 monthly users and Twitter, which had a 3,000 following.

Print media was also utilised achieving 15 pieces of coverage including Saturday Telegraph magazine, Daily Mail Weekend Magazine,full page in Hello, Asda, Waitrose & Tesco magazines and eight regional newspapers.

Results

Latest Nielsen data showed sales of fresh herbs in supermarkets went up by 8.9% in value and 8.8% in volume over the course of the campaign.  Cut herbs showed the biggest growth (14% value and volume uplift) which is where new users usually enter the market.  

Where many website competitions nowadays offer a big prize but very little challenge to contestants, this had cooking at its heart, but was also a bit of fun, tapping into the huge enthusiasm for reality TV as well as providing us with videos and recipes for free.  With Home Economics now no longer being taught in many schools, it’s a challenge for any food based PR campaign to get its message across to a younger audience.  But the benefit of this particular campaign was that it also gave us access to the technology and presentation skills’ classes. 

The winner Alex Outhwaite has now started her own food blog and regularly blogs about fresh herbs.

 

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