Video postcard campaign brings back Chicken of the Sea jingle

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Video is a tough sell for e-mail marketers. After all, most companies block attachments or executable applications. But Chicken of the Sea needed something to help it stand out from its competitors. The company was one of 400 exhibitors competing for foot traffic at the School Nutrition Association Annual National conference, held in Chicago July 15-18. Getting the more than 4,000 conference attendees—school foodservice directors—to stop by the booth to learn about the company's new products would require some ingenuity.

"The Chicken of the Sea brand launched in 1914, but no significant advertising has been done against it since the early 1970s," said Tara Milligan, Chicken of the Sea's director of marketing. "We wanted to use its jingle, which is pretty famous, to get people to the booth."

Milligan, in conjunction with Chicago-based Performance Communications Group, recorded a video message from Ben Kenter, the company's VP-foodservice sales, inviting foodservice directors to come to the booth to become a "mermaid" for just a few minutes by singing the Chicken of the Sea jingle. Their efforts would be recorded and e-mailed to the singer (or singers), as well as their friends and family. At the end of the conference, people could vote for their favorite mermaid, who would win free admission to the 2008 Nutrition Association Annual National conference.

More than 150 different versions of the song were recorded. They proved to be popular. By the end of the preliminary nominations and voting phase, more than 2,200 postcards were viewed—about 15 brand minutes of messaging per postcard. The post-conference e-mail, which asked the 7,500 conference attendees and exhibitors to vote for their favorites, was sent earlier this month.

While the winner of the contest hasn't been chosen, Chicken of the Sea is already reaping rewards. The video e-mails did exactly what they were supposed to do, Milligan said. They brought people to the booth and persuaded them to stick around for a while. The Chicken of the Sea booth had about 1,000 visitors over a three-day period, up from about 850 last year.

Although it's too early to say how many of those visitors will turn into customers, projections are strong based on the number and quality of leads, Milligan said.

"Based on leads, we could pick up $200,000 worth of sales on Lunch Solutions for use in vending machines; schools have had to convert vending machines to healthy products, a la carte feeding, as well as summer feeding programs," she said.

The company is so pleased with these results that it increased its exhibit space for next year by 35%.

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