IPC honored for 'heroic' marketing
Campaign features superhero versions of the promotion director team
By JOHN O'CONNELL
In real life, Ken Tubman, who represents the Idaho Potato Commission as marketing director for the East Coast, has struggled to lose the 50 pounds he gained after giving up smoking.
His alter ego, however, is a svelte superhero named Stretch, who wears a green suit and can extend his limbs a mile long. In one comic adventure the IPC published for a marketing campaign featuring its retail promotion director "superhero," Tubman saved a truckload of Idaho potatoes by stretching his body to replace a missing bridge.
The IPC's Fearless Field Force campaign recently prevailed in the 2012 Produce Business Marketing Excellence Awards. It marked the IPC's fifth consecutive award for a creative marketing campaign.
As modern-day superheroes, Tubman and his cohorts had profit-boosting powers and the savvy to come up with heroic but practical solutions for retailers' challenges.
The IPC made pint glass sets featuring the heroes -- Tubman, Bill Savilonis and Kent Beesley -- to give to its retailers. The campaign spanned from September 2011 through August 2012 and included eight full-page ads in various trade publications. Some of the ads were later combined into a comic book. The heroes' exploits were also featured in videos linked to the IPC webpage.
Last year's campaign also featured bobble-head dolls of the promotion director team -- without super powers. Tubman rarely enters an office in which he doesn't see an IPC bobble-head or superhero glass on a retailer's desk.
"Most of the time it does what it's supposed to do. It keeps us on the buyer's mind," Tubman said. "It adds a little more fun to the meeting rather than just facts and figures."
Seth Pemsler, the IPC's retail/international vice president, was traveling when reached for comment and didn't have access to the total cost of the promotion. But he said it was in line with past marketing campaigns directed at reminding retailers of the resource they have in the promotion directors.
"I went into a major, major retailer. We go into the meeting room and he's sitting there with his superhero cup eating oatmeal. It was something he thought was fun enough, cool enough that it sits on his desk every day," Pemsler said.
"That's the ideal world. If you walk into their office and one of the things you've provided is sitting on their desk, you've won."
IPC also won marketing awards for its foodservice and consumer campaigns.