The Big Potato Meets The Big Apple.
The Idaho Potato Commission built The Big Idaho Potato Truck to celebrate their 75th anniversary. It traveled across the country with a 6-ton simulated potato on a flat bed trailer to overnight success. Now the truck travels about 25,000 miles nationwide each year and leaves a lasting impression by participating in events large and small through its charitable component, “A Big Helping.”
New Yorkers are some of the largest consumers of Idaho® Potatoes in the country and New York City is the largest media market. So it was the perfect place to bring the Big Idaho Potato Truck. Unfortunately, it was determined by the city to be too large to enter Manhattan.
Strategy & Pitch
We knew it would take a highly unusual event to capture New Yorkers’ interest. While it was logistically too challenging to drive the Truck around the city, that’s actually what we did – we drove it around the city… on a New York City river barge.
We floated the 6-ton tater through New York Harbor, around the Statue of Liberty, and up the Hudson River, to attract as much media attention as possible for Idaho® Potatoes. We needed to stage a stunt so unique even New Yorkers who’ve seen it all would have to stop and stare, and the media would clamor to cover it.
In addition to floating the Big Idaho Potato Truck down the river, the event pitch included the following:
- Make sure as many New Yorkers as possible could see the Big Idaho Potato Truck.
- Inform/engage Idaho potato industry members of this unique event.
- Make a charitable donation to a local organization as a thank you to all New Yorkers for being loyal Idaho potato consumers.
The Big Idaho Potato’s “A Big Helping” program is a critical part of its mission, and it was important that our partner be an upstanding non-profit with a connection to New Yorkers and potatoes. We selected Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Manhattan.
EvansHardyYoung reached out to city authorities to get the event approved and organized. To maximize exposure, we chose to have it in New York Harbor from 6am-12 noon, giving commuters plenty of time to share news of sightings with friends, family, and colleagues via social media.
With only a few hours to make a big splash in NYC, our PR team took advantage of every second! We had a team of four in NYC responding to media calls, conducting interviews, and meeting reporters at the barge in Brooklyn after the harbor tour concluded.
We sent media alerts with times and logistics to news outlets throughout the five boroughs. An Associated Press photographer distributed images over the wire by 10am on event day. Potato industry friends were invited to see the truck from a privately chartered boat.
We pitched photo desks, traffic reporters, photo editors, and general news desks.
- New Yorkers are the largest consumers of Idaho® Potatoes in the U.S.
- The IPC was donating 12,000 pounds of fresh Idaho® Potatoes (the weight of the Big Idaho Potato) to the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.
In addition to supplying food to the soup kitchen, the Idaho Potato Commission presented a check to Holy Apostles while aboard a private charter accompanying the truck down the Hudson. Commission members spent the following day serving at the soup kitchen, too.
The Big Idaho Potato Truck’s visit to NYC was a huge success, generating massive publicity for Idaho potatoes via the Big Idaho Potato Truck. More than 100 million media impressions were generated on event day, most coming from NYC, the country’s toughest media market.
68 news outlets covered the truck’s visit, including: WNBC-TV, FOX (local), PIX11, WABC-TV, 1010 Wins (provided coverage throughout the day); plus NY Daily News, The NY Post, and many others.
In addition to TV news, other key channels covered the event:
Social media was abuzz. Many questioned whether the Big Idaho Potato was real or not!
All the key trade publications covered the truck including Produce News, Capital Press, Potato Pro, Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, and Produce Business.
Taxicab News, which is featured in 13,237 yellow cabs, ran feature stories about the Truck and its visit to NYC on the day of the event
Law Enforcement Alert
The NYPD issued a Law Enforcement Alert informing residents a giant Idaho potato was traveling up the Hudson River. Typically, these alerts are issued to notify residents of need-to-know breaking news.
In total, more than 100 million media impressions were generated, with most of them coming from NYC.