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Ebook Makes Two Companies ‘Sweeter Together’

In many ways your local grocery store is a microcosm of world affairs, complete with diplomacy and strategic alliances that turn out to be of benefit to us all. And not since Reese’s “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” has there been a food partnership as successful as the one McDill Associates crafted recently between Sun-Maid Raisins and Chiquita Banana Bread mix.

  • Coupon Design
  • eBook
  • Website

Dubbed “Sweeter Together,” the campaign launched last October following nine months of planning, netting both Sun-Maid Raisins and Chiquita Banana Bread mix maker Concord Foods customers to whom they might not otherwise have been exposed.


Tearing Away from the Tear Pad
“Those shelf-stable companies like the baking mixes and cereals always want to get into the produce department – it’s the most profitable place in the store,” explains McDill Associates Director of Business Development Lisa Hansen. “It’s kinda sexy, it’s healthy, it’s all ages, and the interest in fresh produce is growing all the time.”

At the same time, there’s only so much shoppers can do with produce – both suppliers and retailers know that they’re always on the lookout for recipe ideas. “Sometimes you see the tear pads in the stores or on the box, but those always get tossed,” Hansen observes.

When Sun-Maid and Concord Foods came to the design and branding company seeking a co-branding opportunity, they were simply hoping to cross-promote through an instant redeemable coupon (IRC) on Concord Foods’ specially marked mix and a website that served up a few recipe ideas. What they got was something a bit more sophisticated.


An Ebook Makes it Sweeter Still
McDill Associates received a handful of recipes from the companies, whipped them up and shot them in their in-house photo studio, before packaging them all together…as an ebook.

“It wasn’t even on their radar – they loved that,” says Hansen. “And the consumer loved it, too.”

Upon clicking a prominent link on the campaign’s website and filling in their name, email address and postal code, the customer is then given access to a 4-page recipe book. The lively looking ebook features five recipes in a format that can be emailed to a friend, shared on social media, printed, or downloaded as a handy PDF.

“People love these downloadable ebooks, and we’re able to collect those really valuable email addresses that the partners can share,” says Hansen.

Another prominent button says “Share your recipe with us.” Clicking on this again scoops up names, email addresses and postal codes, and automatically opts them in to receiving offers from both companies unless they uncheck a box.

“User generated content for recipes is fantastic,” says Hansen. “I could see them becoming future ebooks or adding them to their individual websites. Consumers love ‘seeing their names in lights’ and companies love to get that kind of content essentially for the cost of the promotion.”

In the past, similar consumer recipes have been featured on tear-off pads in stores and even on a company’s packaging. “It’s a real added bonus.”


Two Companies, One Face
Perhaps even more impressive than the ebook is the campaign’s website, which is a master class in bold-yet-tasteful design that does three things better than any site we’ve seen. It:

  • Gives both companies equal billing and exposure
  • Points you toward the one action they want you to take (downloading the ebook)
  • Puts both companies’ websites and social media platforms in easy reach without cluttering the page.

“We’ve done these pages so many years now we’ve really learned a lot in terms of trying to keep it really clean, really minimal, and letting people pick their own path,” says Hansen. “I’m really proud of the design because I feel like it hits the mark in terms of the branding, giving everyone equal billing, and feels a little bit more like a two-way conversation than us just pushing content out.”

It also maintains a perfect balance between the two companies – each logo is equal in size, and the ribbon backdrop incorporates the product colors of both. Says Hansen, “We’ve found that having the agency in the middle, it allows everyone to have the middle ground. We’re really good at being able to come to a consensus, listen to everyone’s feedback, and translate that back into an effective design and program.”

Since its launch last October, the campaign website has driven more traffic to the two companies’ social media platforms, and ebooks continue to be downloaded at a healthy clip. Finally, coupon redemption rates are expected to reach an impressive 10%, making the integrated approach of the promotion a perfect combination.

“These co-promotions really work,” says Hansen. “It triples your reach and your consumer audience. You’re tapping into another brand’s audience that’s relevant – the people you might not otherwise have access to.”

In short, it really is “sweeter together.”


Author: Aaron Berman

A former writer and editor for USA Today, Aaron Berman is also the editor of PaperSpecs, and covered the newspaper industry for the Newspaper Association of America’s monthly magazine, Presstime.


  1. I have often thought complementary products should be advertised together, so I’m not surprised it’s finally coming. Not just foods, but a mini van transporting the soccer team, paired with a super laundry soap after the game.

    I also think that some “family” depicted will become the face of multiple products. As their lifestyle becomes more apparent, so will their use of a brand of car, a laundry soap, children’s medicine, etc. It’s a socio-economic statement, and we will begin to consciously or subconsciously recongnize them and get to know their values and expectations. I presume they will be an upwardly mobile middle class attractive and healthy family with concerns about quality, safety, value for money; with ethics and responsibility. Watch for this family…..

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    • A really interesting idea, Jean. In fact this was essentially the way American television worked in the 1970s – not corporations paying other corporations for placement of their products on TV shows, but corporations paying individual stars to wear this kind of shoe, etc. The informality of it all was precisely what makes it so interesting today.

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