Butterball’s PR is Tryptophan-tastic!

November 20, 2007

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Flip the dial on your TV tomorrow and Thursday and you’ll likely find one of Edelman’s placements for Butterball’s classic Turkey Talk-Line. Edelman cleverly helped Butterball launch the 800 number in 1981 with just 5 operators. The idea was not to sell turkeys but to assuage the nation’s “turkey trauma,” thus making the brand synonymous with the bird.

We talked to Allison McClamroch who heads up the 8-person account team from Edelman’s office in Chicago to find out more. The staff cooks up billions of impressions by working a full year in advance to come up with new angles and pitch long-lead magazines, according to McClamroch.

The Talk Line has grown to 55 Butterball University-trained experts who handle over 11,000 calls a season on everything from prep techniques, safety, recipes, and talking first-time Thanksgiving Day hosts off the ledge. Average tenure on the floor is 11 years.

Edelman turns up the gas on the PR program when the help line opens each year around November 1st by sending out heaping helpings of b-roll, followed by a satellite media tour (SMT) on “national thaw day” one week prior to Thanksgiving (thawing is the #1 problem for new cooks and should begin a week in advance). The SMT yielded 54 TV affiliates this year.


McClamroch et al tap about 10 Butterball “ladies” (there has never been a male Butterball operator) to handle interviews including the SMT, 3 live Today Show Spots, a CNN American Morning and countless others placements.

She explained the challenge isn’t handling the volume of requests but to keep the program fresh. This year the team used regional hooks to tap in to the local food movement, and added a podcast to appeal to the younger cook.

1-800-BUTTERBALL is one classic morsel of savory Americana.

PS: Did anyone Calendar Girls? There’s your free hook for ’08 Edelman: the Ladies of Butterball Calendar!

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