Del Monte Foods, Inc.: A Case of Thanksgiving Branding

Article ImageCompany: Del Monte Foods, Inc.

The California Bay Area-based Del Monte Foods, Inc.'s products were introduced to American grocery stores in 1886 and have been a pantry staple ever since. "At Del Monte, we will always strive to cultivate the best garden quality vegetables, fruits, and tomatoes to help you and your family live a life full of vitality and enjoyment," according to the company's website. 


Business Challenge

What would Thanksgiving be without the traditional turkey and a cornucopia of vegetables? In 2014, Del Monte was looking for a way to strengthen its ties to Thanksgiving in customers' minds-specifically, for its green beans. The company decided to implement a content marketing initiative, teaming up with POPSUGAR to create a branded portal for content, but it also wanted to amplify that content's reach. Additionally, Del Monte needed assistance with content creation.

Vendor of Choice: Vibrant

"Vibrant connects consumers in real time with engaging content and brand experiences-delivered cross platform," says Vibrant's website. With solutions for advertisers and publishers, Vibrant places native advertisements across platforms to improve reach and scale. Its clients include Unilever, HP, Microsoft, Jaguar, and Visa.


The Problem In-Depth

"With the 2014 holiday season approaching, Del Monte wished to strengthen ties to Thanksgiving and drive brand interaction and engagement with the famous Del Monte green beans," according to a press release. Virginia Moon, associate brand manager at Del Monte, says, "Del Monte has been around for over 120 years. We're an iconic American brand that people know and love. ... However, our brand is not very tightly tied to Thanksgiving."

It's hard to compete with the all-important turkey and the colorful cranberry sauce for the hearts and minds of Thanksgiving diners. Del Monte wanted its green beans to have a place at the table, so to speak, and decided that a branded content push was the way to go. "We were running our green bean TV ads, which makes a lot of sense in terms of awareness and keeping us top of mind," says Moon. "But to really extend that conversation, create that relevance and that stronger tie to Thanksgiving, we felt we really needed to do something from a digital standpoint-and, specifically, content marketing would lend itself to ... being able to provide our consumer with something that's extraordinarily valuable to her in the moment-especially during what's a typically stressful holiday occasion."

As all would-be content marketers know, creating great content is hard. Getting it in front of potential customers can be even harder. Del Monte does not have an in-house content marketing team. More to the point, the company needed to move beyond the borders of its own website to reach consumers who were not already immediately thinking about Del Monte when planning their menus. This meant finding the right partners to create branded content that would be sure to keep Del Monte green beans on consumers' minds and pushing the content out to a wide audience.  

‘We're an iconic American brand that people know and love. ...'

The Solution

With the help of its media buying agency, Starcom, Del Monte teamed up with Vibrant and POPSUGAR to deliver its message. POPSUGAR describes itself as "a global women's lifestyle brand focused in media, commerce, and technology. Our mission is to connect women with new entertainment, products, and experiences they're most passionate about." This, along with its ability to create a branded portal for Del Monte, made it a great fit for the food provider's Thanksgiving content offensive.

But Del Monte also wanted to increase its reach beyond that portal, so it enlisted the help of Vibrant at the suggestion of Starcom. According to Moon, Del Monte was drawn to Vibrant "because of their targeting capabilities-not only through keywords but also through image targeting."

Vibrant Amplify is Vibrant's solution that can commission, curate, and distribute brands' paid, owned, and earned content in relevant editorial articles. Del Monte used content created by POPSUGAR as well as Vibrant to populate its branded portal, which housed its content, plus general lifestyle content related to Thanksgiving that POPSUGAR was already creating.

Articles within the branded site included "Healthy Twists on a Holiday Classic" and "Top Ten Tips for Smart Holiday Entertaining." Writers also offered up their green bean casserole recipes. Jennifer Wyman, account executive at Vibrant, says that the company works with Scripted, which creates content on demand, to help clients develop the right content. She says they would identify article ideas before briefing "writers on what we want and how we want it to be delivered."

Meanwhile, Del Monte was also creating "data-driven stories for mass media coverage by partnering with PR Hacker, an agency that specializes in story based, data-driven content that creates news," according to a press release. "For this part of the campaign, Del Monte asked 1,500 Americans to ‘go green bean' and rate their fondness for the classic green-bean casserole side dish. The result: The first annual ‘Del Monte Green Bean Index'-a ranking of the top 25 U.S. states with the highest concentration of green-bean casserole lovers for the holidays." 

While Vibrant helped provide content, it really excelled at leveraging the Del Monte content using Vibrant's contextual ad network, which served the branded content up as ads on other sites, Wyman says. So if you happened to be searching around the internet for healthy Thanksgiving recipes last holiday season, there's a good chance Vibrant placed an ad for Del Monte's content within your line of sight. This was made possible through Vibrant Mosaic, which is Vibrant's tool that syndicates brand and social content across the web.

The Outcome

The goal of Del Monte's campaign was to drive brand interaction and engagement, and Moon says that, so far, it looks as if the campaign is a resounding success. In terms of what Del Monte expected from Vibrant, "We were looking for click-through rates and time on-site," Moon says.

"Click-through rates were extraordinary," she continues, adding that they "far surpassed industry standards." In addition, she says that time on-site was twice the norm. "On average, it's something like 7 seconds," but with this campaign, Del Monte saw time on-site jump to almost 15 seconds. That, Moon says, "speaks to the value of the content and the way Vibrant was able to target" content to the right readers.

According to the press release, "In addition to achieving impressive rates of viral sharing, the Del Monte Green Bean Index was covered on more than 100 media outlets-including top media outlets such as Bloomberg and Yahoo Travel, plus dozens of local TV news stations-garnering an estimated 80 million total audience in less than two weeks."

"What we were able to accomplish with Vibrant was more than what we expected," Moon says. "We were trying to drive value and engagement and that tighter connection with Thanksgiving. ... If we were to run another digital campaign, we would certainly consider working with them again."