As the latest run of the EU-funded pepper campaign ColourfulTaste draws to a close, Produce Business UK takes a look at what can be learnt from the initiative
Celebrating 50 years of pepper production in Europe, the ColourfulTaste campaign aims to “inform and inspire” families with children up to 12 years old through pepper recipes and key health messages.
Thanks to a raft of successful direct-to-consumer activities held last year, Brighton-based PR company Punch Communications achieved some strong coverage across UK consumer press and blogs, as well as food specific outlets.
“We learned that consumer events work really well,” reveals Punch Communication’s Gina Tunley. “Despite the fact that people are obviously aware of peppers, the main feedback we seemed to get was just how tasty they were cooked very simply and it inspired people to use them more.
“The engagement at events was high and we found the direct-to-consumer approach very effective. The press event [at Thanet Earth] allowed us to further strengthen relationships for future campaigns too.”
The ColourfulTaste drive started six years ago to promote the benefits of eating peppers across European countries, with an exclusive focus on the Dutch and German markets. The last three years have seen the UK market grab some limelight too, with Punch taking on the consumer-facing campaign in 2013.
Employed by Dutch grower collaboration P8, which matches funding from the European Union (EU) on a 50:50 basis to conduct the campaign, Punch combined the brand awareness of a traditional PR campaign, the measurability and direct commercial impact of SEO and social media, and its blog is ranked as one of the top 50 PR blogs in the UK.
The 2013 edition of the campaign was seasonally-driven, running in line with the March to September pepper-growing season during 2014.
“PR activities often start earlier in order to capitalise on long-lead press opportunities,” explains Tunley. “The main aims of the campaign were to promote peppers to those who were not using them regularly, or even at all, in their meals.”
Healthy eating: ColourfulTaste has set out to educate consumers on how many vitamins and minerals peppers contain, as well as the fact that this changes depending on how you prepare and cook the vegetable.
According to campaign literature, red peppers contain the most vitamin C of all vegetables and fruits. In fact, a pepper has three times as much vitamin C as an orange. The campaign also highlights that peppers have zero fat and contain the vitamins E, B1 and B2, as well as calcium, sodium and iron.
Versatility: Since the campaign mainly targets families with children up to 12 years old, it pushed forward peppers as snacks – quick for midweek meals and nutritious in lunchboxes.
Taste: Consumers were targeted with samples to taste at supermarkets and festivals, and through recipe cards and ideas via the campaign website.
Tying in with seasonal themes such as picnics, BBQs and events like British Sandwich Week 2014, the campaign focused on producing inspiring recipes featuring peppers and content that would get children eating more healthily, through the ColourfulTaste website tastings, social media and recipe cards, including ways to prepare and tips on keeping peppers at their best.
Tasting opportunities were arranged in major shopping centres, such as Westfield in Stratford, East London, and the campaign took part in food festivals in order to take peppers directly to consumers.
The initiative also included a pepper recipe booklet, which went into supermarkets, and retail on-premise tasting activities and consumer media events, as well as an increased online and social media presence with the tagline ‘Pick a Pepper’.
Consumer and newspaper journalists were offered a trip to the 50-hectare site and salad-growing facility at Thanet Earth followed by a pepper cookery masterclass with UK-based Dutch chef Guus Vredenburg at the East Kent College.
The campaign featured recipes from chef Vredenburg, who acts as a consultant for large hotel food groups and specialises in bringing the ‘umami’ (Japanese for ‘pleasant savoury taste’) out in food.
The 15 or so journalists who experienced the tasting session in Thanet Earth’s show kitchen, saw chef Vredenburg pairing different flavours with raw peppers to show their versatility.
The journalists were also given a tour within the pepper glasshouses to find out how the vegetable is grown commercially and listened to a presentation from P8 member Gerrit Jan Kornet, following a ‘pepper high tea’. Journalists later took part in the masterclass, ate the results for dinner, and were put up overnight in a neighbouring hotel.
While consumer events are a big part of the campaign, Punch Communications has found that good photography is also a must, and not just in relation to peppers, but also the setting they are in.
“More lifestyle shots is something we may aspire to in the future – as well as images tied to specific themes,” notes the agency’s Tunley.
The ColourfulTaste campaign has been granted further EU funding for the next three years, and a focus on the UK market has been proposed. Details for future campaigns have not yet been finalised, however.