Cannes Lions

ALMONDS

HILL & KNOWLTON CHINA, Beijing / ALMOND BOARD OF CALIFORNIA / 2010

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Overview

Description

The Almond Board of California (ABC) wanted to position almonds as “the essential nut to snack on” but faced stiff competition from other popular and cheaper nuts such as peanuts and pistachios. Another obstacle was the widely held misconception that almonds are fattening and can cause weight gain – a great concern for their core target consumers: health-conscious 25-45 year-old Chinese women.

To change their image and educate consumers on the health benefits of almonds, ABC had to build an emotional bond for consumers to achieve top-of-mind awareness and drive demand. Launching an integrated marketing campaign leveraged influencers, media outreach and a celebrity-endorsed advertisement campaign by positioning almonds as a solution to living a better lifestyle. After 4 months of the campaign, the Associate Director of ABC for Asia, Kristi Saitama said, “For the first time ever in history, China moved to become the NUMBER ONE export market for California Almonds! We know that high interest from the trade together with our past consistent efforts with consumer-demand generation, are key factors at driving such high import volumes”.The California Almonds campaign reached more than 135 million people in just four months through 342 media clippings. ABC will continue its growth.

Execution

Celebrity Gao Yuanyuan was the perfect endorsement of the product. The integrated campaign included a press event in October 2009 to introduce the "Almond Ambassador", before a series of cost effective outdoor bus shelter ads were implemented. The ad panels were also placed in key cities with high purchasing power during peak sales seasons. Visually, the design was tied to the print advertorial series as well as in-store point-of-sale materials unifying the message and campaign recognition. The campaign organized a nationwide consumer online/offline voting contest to actively engage key opinion leaders whose contributions served as inspirational tips to targeted consumers. This was coupled with in-store promotion and retail cooperation for high visibility at the point of purchase.A strong partnership with food, health and lifestyle media developed TV coverage and advertorials depicting key health and nutritional messages with ambassador endorsements to drive a strong association with almonds.

Outcome

In the fiscal year 2007/08 California shipped 46.6 million pounds of almonds to China. In 2008/09 this was up to 99.7 million pounds, but in the first 5 months of 2009/10 alone, consumption in China is up to 106,771,563 million pounds - an astonishing achievement taking China from the position of third largest export destination in 2008/9 to the number one slot to-date in 2009/10. The campaign garnered significant media attention with 75 clippings regarding Almond Ambassador Gao Yuanyuan out of a total of 342 media clippings recorded from October 2009 to February 2010, which reached a total of over 135 million consumers. Additionally, eight TV episodes were broadcasted that included Gao Yuanyuan with California Almonds. The total numbers of viewership for these episodes is approximately 1.2 billion people.

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