Hotel Chocolat, a high-end European chocolate maker, wanted to launch its products in specific US markets in time for the holiday gift buying season. Unknown to US consumers, Hotel Chocolat posed a challenge even bigger than breaking through the very competitive confectionary category – the product could only be purchased online at its virtual store. Equally important was the need to ensure that the brand’s ‘hip and authentic’ positioning came across loud and clear. LCI teamed up with public relations partners in several US cities, each focusing on a specific market.
LCI created a two-pronged approach – initiate a Hotel Chocolat Ambassador program and conduct proactive media outreach. For the Ambassador program, LCI reached out to San Francisco Bay Area influencers, from the media to the arts, business and social services, enlisting more than 50 ‘tastemakers’ as Ambassadors. The ambassadors’ assignment? Taste the Hotel Chocolat samples provided and complete an online survey rating the chocolates. Weeks later, they attended an Ambassadors-only Hotel Chocolat dinner, hosted by company founder Angus Thirwell. LCI ensured that the dinner was held in one of San Francisco’s then newest and hottest restaurants, underscoring the brand’s hip and high quality positioning.
On the proactive media outreach front, LCI focused on select San Francisco Bay Area food media, from print to broadcast to bloggers. We crafted individual pitches from a simple, straightforward new product launch to showcasing founder Angus Thirwell teaching a television show host the hows and whys of cooking with high-end chocolate.
LCI garnered significant regional and local media placements, including a segment on KGO-TV’s View from the Bay (ABC-TV) and coverage in ANG Newspapers, representing six different Bay Area papers. We also placed features in the San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and SF Weekly. Several influential bloggers also covered Hotel Chocolat. Additionally, LCI uncovered two non-profit partnership opportunities for Hotel Chocolat to be featured at high visibility events, further ingratiating itself into the San Francisco Bay Area community.