Kemin Foods: upping the ante

Situation – fulfill the need to lead
Kemin Foods FloraGlo(R) lutein was the leader in a market soon to be flooded with look-a-likes and lower grade versions of similar compounds. Having investing hundreds of thousands of dollars building consumer awareness of the category, it was time to make a big brand splash in the B2B market. As marketing services manager for the company, I lead the effort to identify the best place to make that splash.

Strategy – step up and out
One of the key trade shows and conferences for the nutritional ingredients market was scheduled for January 30 – 31, in Anaheim, California. The show, Nutritionals 2001, had a variety of conventional sponsorship – coffee breaks, cocktail receptions, educational seminars, etc. – but we decided we had to make a big splash. We agreed to buy opening night reception, but make it one of a kind.

Instead of piped in music, appetizers and a bar, our team decided to put on a live concert featuring Micheal and Kevin Bacon – aka The Bacon Brothers. But we had to make the investment really work for us, so we started integrating. Each sales rep sent a Bacon Brothers CD and an invitation to meet the Bacon Brothers before the show. During the mic check, each of our VIP guests got to meet Kevin and Michael, get their autographs and have a picture taken. Our VIPs were seated with their sales rep in the front row for the entire hour-long concert.

Results – a high standard was established
We anticipated around 500 guests, and counted 498 bodies in the room. And the room was rocking with the eclectic sounds of the Bacon Brothers. During the concert, one sales rep leaned over to me – away from his number one customer who was mesmerized by Michael’s cello playing on “Ten Years In Mexico” – and said “Mark, you’re a (expletive deleted) genius!”

The event created a new standard. Industry leaders talked about it for a long time and, for several years after that initial meeting, other marketers in the market followed the Kemin Foods lead and contracted with other bands to headline similar receptions.

What made it work?

  • It was unexpected
  • It engaged the key audience – top customers
  • It was integrated to make the most of our investment

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