Monday, March 27, 2006

PR Can Take You From Geek to Chic

Our most recent class assignment was to examine a case study and provide our own analysis. When I was looking through the Holmes Report, a Publicis Dialog case caught my eye.

At the turn of the century the United Soybean Board faced threats concerning the safety of soy products. The public became aware of risks involving trans fats (which are found in hydrogenated soybean oil) and agricultural biotechnology (which is how many soybean seeds are enhanced). Concerns about cancer and cholesterol were linked to soy products too.

Publicis worked with USB to create a program that dealt with issues management and the promotion of USB’s Better Bean Initiative. They targeted key people in the food and feed industry, influencers such as media representatives and healthcare professionals and consumers concerned about cholesterol and heart health.

In one analysis of the mainstreaming of soy, Publicis’ campaign was described as moving soy from “geek to chic”. Well, it worked.

Through trade shows, newsletters and websites Publicis helped promote the important role of soy in preventing and treating diseases as well as general awareness of soy products (e.g. soy milk, tofu, soy flour).

In turn, the volunteer farmers who comprise the USB and represent 600,000 soybean farmers nationwide benefited from the maintained market share, increased consumer awareness and increased use of resources.

As for the public, not only is soy a household name but less people turn their nose up at tofu and embrace delicious products like Soy Crisps. PR might have made soybeans somewhat chic.

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