How to Get Appetizing Results from Your Food Media Buy

Nearly everyone is fighting for a share of stomach these days, which has resulted in increased pressure on media strategies tasked with breaking through the chatter. Promoting products within this competitive marketplace requires a certain creativity beyond the traditional media buy. Fortunately for food brands, there is a lot you can do to make a message more appealing and appetizing and there is a wealth of opportunity waiting to be uncovered by the savvy negotiator.

Product placement is big business. Take E.T. and Reese’s for example. Another confectionary company turned down the placement opportunity so, Hershey’s jumped in. The agreement was to spend a reported $1MM in advertising in exchange for rights to use E.T. in its ad. Just two weeks following the premiere, Hershey’s saw a 65%+ jump in profits.

Pricey product placements and brand integrations can be very successful but they can also run the risk of falling flat. Let’s take a look at negotiating brand integration into your media buy as added value.

Negotiating Brand Integration as Added Value to The Media Buy

Added value augments the visibility of paid advertising, reinforces the brand message, and amplifies the viewer’s relationship to the brand. The result triggers further consideration, trial, and usage.

With an increase in advertising vehicle options, especially with digital and social, ad fatigue is inevitable. However, media strategist can combat this by adding merchandising value to increase reach at no additional cost through creative brand integration programs. Media partners have access to all sorts of brand partnerships that can be purchased and/or negotiated as value added. They also have a wealth of content and improved technologies available to ensure integration is seamless.

Women food blogger standing in kitchen behind camera with fresh produce

One tactic that has proven to get outstanding results for our food clients has been to negotiate brand integration as an added value to our media buys. Here are some key considerations that will ensure you’re getting the most out of your negotiations.

Brand Alignment

Investigate your buy to see if there is associated programming or editorial that aligns with your brand. Do these networks, stations, and programs feature a nutritionist, chef, or anchorperson who broadcasts as part of a daily lifestyle segment? If the segment includes food, fashion, cooking, arts, and/or travel, then it could hold a creative integration opportunity for your food brand. On-air personalities have appointment viewers that tune into the show on a regular basis. Promotion departments are always looking for programming ideas that work well with their upcoming content.

Consider All Opportunities Big and Small

National coverage is great but don’t overlook the power of local media. National partners, such as The Food Network, provide rich, compatible integration options. However, tapping local media partners can have a huge impact on your key market retailers. Local media is often open to exploring more out-of-the-box integration opportunities with their local personalities, whether on television, radio, or digital at no additional charge. While some of the smaller partners don’t have the mainstream reach of the national Today Show or GMA, they can be great partners in delivering a loyal and very engaged fan following.

Integrate Your Brand Teams to Ensure Seamless Results

Prior to approaching media partners, work closely with internal account and PR teams to ensure alignment on goals and objectives of your integration. Food PR teams work with various health professionals, food editors, and chefs and they know how to pitch and secure editorial. This information can be a big help when pitching a far-reaching partnership concept. Brand integrations should complement the entire team’s efforts in order to produce a seamless experience for your audience. Having your PR team work directly with the station’s programming staff can ensure the success of your promotions.

Tracking the Media Value

Media value is based on when and how long the product or brand was seen by the consumer. This includes on the air, on the website, on social channels, and off-air promotions. Stations often sell sponsorships packages and do not necessarily provide them as an added value to every partner. It’s up to the media strategist to determine the value and negotiate the package as part of the buy.

Calculate the media value based on elements such as:

  • A 2 to 4-minute on-air custom segment, with content that has credibility from the local chef/TV personality.
  • Advertised program by the station, on-air cross-promos, digital and social channels, radio, and transit media.
  • Posts on the show’s feature page and social channels.
  • Pre-roll and targeted banners on other corporate properties affiliated with the media/station. These drive traffic to the show’s feature page and your website.
  • Sweepstakes, recipe contests, and station giveaways are also a great way to measure the success of your added value.
  • Effective Integrations Bring Value to Food Brands and Customers

    As a media added value element, integration is more effective since it becomes part of the editorial program consumers already want to engage with. The brand is naturally woven into these live broadcasts to benefit the target audience. Food integration provides the brand with an association to popular programs and influential personalities. These programs often showcase a healthy, simple recipe that brings value to the viewer. So, while you may not have the advertising budget of Hershey for a paid brand integration, you can still optimize your media budget with negotiated added value integration. Doing so extends the advertising reach, stretches your media budget, and remains within the scope of your brand objectives.

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    Lily Katz-Smolenske Sr VP/Media Director EvansHardy+Young
    Lily Katz-Smolenske, Senior VP Media Director

    Before leading the Media department at EvansHardy+Young for the past 17 years, Lily served as Senior Partner/Media Director at J. Walter Thompson/LA, Senior VP/Account Director at Western International Media and VP/Media Director at TBWA/Chiat Day and on the client side as Group Media Manager for Seagram’s. Lily is a committed Foodie and owns an extensive cookbook collection