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V-8 Fusion Opts for Facebook as Sampling Channel

By Jul 22, 2010

V-8, the Campbell Soup fruit-and-vegetable juice blend, has taken a big step into social media marketing with a sampling campaign for a new product extension that’s being conducted almost entirely on Facebook.

The campaign, which launched on July 12 and will continue through September 30, gives Facebook followers who friend the V-8 V-Fusion page a chance to enter their mailing information and receive a sample of one of the new juice products, V-8 V-Fusion + Tea. The new juices are made with green tea and come in Raspberry, Pineapple Mango and Pomegranate flavors.

“It’s true that we haven’t done much sampling with the public in the past, and most of what we have done has been in stores,” V-8 spokesperson Juli Mandel-Sloves says. “But V-8 V-Fusion is one of the most popular product introductions we’ve had in recent years, and now we have a new line that’s coming to stores in mid-September. With a new product, there’s a lot of the ‘tasting is believing’ factor. We know we’re building on something people already love, so we really wanted to get it into people’s hands.”

Mandel-Sloves adds that Campbell intends to raise its level of engagement in all social media across its portfolio of brands, including Campbell Soup, V-8 and Pepperidge Farm. Besides launching a new Facebook page for V-8 V-Fusion, the company also recently re-launched a dormant Facebook page for V8.

And in a separate campaign, Pepperidge Farm is driving tasting of a new extension to its Milano cookie line, Milano Strawberry, with a coupon for 55 cents off on a new Milano Facebook page.

“Those are already starting to show up in stores, so that’s a great way to drive sales,” Mandel-Sloves says. “For the + Tea product most people still don’t have that available in their local store, so this is an opportunity to build some excitement about a product before it gets into stores.”

Judging by the speed with which the free samples are being claimed, the campaign is indeed exciting customers. For the past two weeks, V-8 has loaded the Facebook site with 1,000 samples. And each time, those samples have been given away to fans within hours of being put online. Samples are limited to one per household. At press time, it was not clear if visitors to the site could request a specific flavor of the new V-Fusion + Tea products.

According to Mandel-Sloves, the fast sellout each week is not a real concern for V-8. “We’re not in a position to offer a sample to everyone who wants one,’ she says. “That’s why we chose to stagger the sampling over the course of the weeks until the product is in full distribution. We recognize that some people have been disappointed that the samples were sold out, and that’s why our messaging [on the Facebook page] is very clear; Come back at noon nest Monday. We want to be completely transparent and let people know how many samples we’re putting out at one time.’

The Facebook sample page has a thermometer that indicates how many available samples are left in the week’s quota. And while a small proportion of the comments left on the V-Fusion wall sound angry at being shut out of the week’s offer, a much larger proportion of comments are disappointed but excited, and from customers who sound determined to come back in time next week.

A cross-functional team at V-8 is handling the social campaign and responding to customer questions and comments about the new product—mainly questions on whether it’s in stores now and when it will arrive on the shelves of local groceries.

Some of the traffic to the V-Fusion page is being driven by the large number of Web sites collecting information about discounts and free samples. “We did not reach out to those sites at all,” says Mandel-Sloves. “That has increased awareness of the campaign, but it’s also increased the number of people trying to get a sample.”

On the other hand, V-8 has done its first blogger outreach for this new product line, something Campbell brands have done for other products in recent years. The company ran an event a few months ago for mommy and family bloggers at its Camden NJ headquarters and found that the V-Fusion line was one thing they were most interested in. So the company followed up with those bloggers and involved them in outreach to talk about the new + Tea line, sending them samples and giving them product to give away to their readers.

In addition to the sampling done directly from the Facebook page, a small number of + Tea samples are being made available through ads within Facebook, where they are being targeted mainly to females who express interest in health and wellness. V-8 has also done some live sampling in selected markets, for example giving out 30,000 samples in one day last week in New York, in Rockefeller Plaza, grand Central Station and other venues.

But the Facebook-based sampling is part of the brand’s new initiative on social media. “We really consider the Facebook sampling to be a big focus,” says Mandel-Sloves. “We wanted to create an engagement mechanism with people. We know consumers are very passionate about this brand, and we want to build on that with some ongoing involvement.”