Building A Big Appetite for a Tiny Superfood

Case Study: USA PULSES

When the United Nations declared 2016 the “International Year of Pulses” our team dove into action implementing an integrated two-year marketing program to put these global superfoods on the culinary map. Working on behalf of the U.S. and Canadian pulse commissions, our integrated program changed perceptions, inspired usage and drove sales of pulses — specifically dry peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans — feeding consumer hunger for this plant-based wonder food. Here’s how we did it.

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Year One: Educate and Inspire

Back in 2016, research told us consumers had no idea pulses was the name of a legume superfood group. Not only was the barrier name recognition, there was also a lack of awareness of the major nutritional benefits of these foods — and a perception that they could only be used in bland, boring ways.

To increase name awareness, amplify the health benefits and show interesting pulse usage, the team launched a programmatic digital ad campaign and amplified owned social channels, using appetizing visuals to demonstrate just what a pulse is and drive traffic to a website packed with inspiration.

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Meanwhile, earned feature stories in hundreds of outlets like the Washington Post, Mind Body Green, Cooking Light and People, as well as a wide-reaching influencer campaign with foodies and health experts, resulted in 3B+ impressions, nearly a million unique website visitors, and a 17% increase in awareness for the term “pulses.” An interactive, 10-week Pulse Pledge Challenge rewarded consumers for eating pulses with swag, useful recipes and meal plans, resulting in regular interaction with 60K+ pulse pledgers.

Year Two: Nurture a Habit

With awareness at new heights, our next challenge was inspiring consistent usage. Armed with new research, we leaned into two strategies to nurture long-term adoption: 1) communicate the health benefits of eating ½ cup of pulses just 3x a week and 2) target health eating trendsetters — millennials and boomers. Building on the success of the Pulse Pledge we coined a new phrase, the “Half Cup Habit,” and built an integrated program again utilizing digital channels, influencers and earned media to reinforce just how effortless, healthful and delicious it is to add pulses to your diet. We drove more than 1M additional website visitors, looking for ways to eat pulses, 2B additional impressions and 50K+ Half Cup Habit participants.

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Results Over the
Two-year Period:

– Pulse awareness increased from
6% before the campaign to 23% after
– 5B+ total impressions
– 2M+ unique website visitors
– 5M+ website visits overall
– 56K Pulse Pledges and;
– 50K+ Half Cup Habit adopters
– 142K new social media followers
– Hundreds of original recipes + photos
– 2 original cookbooks
– A library of educational material

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