Tofurky: A Marketing 50 Case Study

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Here's how to turn a blob of wheat gluten and soy into one of the fastest-selling vegetarian products: Make it taste like meat, name it Tofurky and let the jokes -- and publicity -- fly.

Unit sales are surging about 40% annually for the line, which is anchored by Tofurky Roast and has expanded into Tofurky sausages and deli slices. Turtle Island Foods, which markets several other meat-substitute products, had revenue topping $11 million last year.

The company runs Tofurky print ads, created in-house, in vegetarian magazines. But word-of-mouth has provided the biggest lift, helping it cut into popular consciousness. Example: a Citibank print ad in which a woman says, "Well, my son Jack went and married a vegetarian. ... It was my first Tofurky, and I wanted it to be just right."

"We let them use the brand however they want," says founder and President Seth Tibbott, 57, who calculates that the free mentions are worth $1.5 million annually.
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