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Toaster On Wheels

By May 01, 2008

In the old days bakeries used to make home deliveries for bread. Mrs Baird’s Bakeries is sort of reviving the tradition in celebration of its 100th year in business.

A silver Scion resembling a toaster to get consumers to sample its products will be making stops in seven markets through the end of the year.

Reps manning the “Toaster on Wheels” at each location are handing out thousands of samples of the regional brand’s sweet goods and bread, topped with cinnamon and sugar, butter or cheese, as well as coupons.

“We found you need to take the brand outside of the store, outside of traditional media, as well as get in people’s faces where they are not expecting to see branding and make it part of the community,” says Ellen Quiros, senior brand manager for Mrs Baird’s.

The vehicle features a 27-inch screen and audio system, which plays a reel of Mrs Baird’s TV commercials.

“It’s another way to deliver a brand experience,” explains Yvonne Ryan, account director, Moroch Partners, Mrs Baird’s agency of record, which is handling the tour and anniversary campaign. “It’s about that one-on-one connection.”

The effort represents about 20% of the company’s marketing budget this year, Quiros estimates, declining to reveal specifics. That amount is double what the company typically spends on vehicle marketing in a year.

Mrs Baird’s is turning to tactics other than TV advertising in the face of rising wheat prices and a buckling economy.

“Because we’re in a market that has commodity-driven prices, we want to keep consumers aware of our products,” Quiros says. “When you emotionally connect with a brand, you are more likely to purchase it.”

The tour, which kicked off in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in March, is stopping in Austin, TX, San Antonio, TX, and Kansas City, MO, hitting such events as fairs and rodeos this month. Other stops during the year include Lubbock, TX, Tulsa, OK, and Bentonville, AK.

Mrs Baird’s sales force is using a second vehicle to support trade/retail accounts and also as an internal sales incentive.

Reps who meet certain targets will get to drive the kitschy toaster around town.

“You’d be amazed how many people become your friends when you are driving that car,” Ryan jokes.

Founded in 1908 by Ninnie L. Baird, Mrs Baird’s is now a division of Bimbo Bakeries USA. The company operates 15 bakeries and distributes other brands including Oroweat, Bimbo, Tia Rosa, Entenmann’s, Thomas’ and Marinela.

The bread maker this month is also running a cause-marketing campaign called “Pass the Bread.” A portion of May bread sales will go toward in-kind donations of bread to local food banks, valuing up to $500,000.

The campaign also includes a gift-with-purchase promotion later this month running through August. People who buy six packages of hot dog or hamburger rolls will receive a free barbecue set, of which 10,000 will be available while supplies last. Shoppers enter codes from the products at www.MrsBairds.com to qualify for the offer.

“Building the brand at the community level is what the brand is all about,” Quiros says. “Mrs. Baird started out by giving bread to her neighbors and that’s what we continue to do. The neighborhood has just gotten bigger.”

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For more articles on experiential marketing, go to http://promomagazine.com/eventmarketing/