Online presence around gluten-free issues is staggering, with limitless gluten-free bloggers, tweeters, and Facebookers going online to share recipes, review products and provide each other tips on how to live a more optimistic gluten-free life. In summer 2010, Rudi’s Organic Bakery launched a new gluten-free line of products under the Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery brand. Rudi’s turned to Linhart PR to help entice trial and awareness of its new gluten-free breads in Colorado by going direct to the gluten-free consumer. Knowing a well regarded, established and locally-based competitor already existed in the market, the team had the additional challenge of converting users by building a genuine familiarity and warmth for the Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery brand.
As part of its overall product launch campaign, Linhart PR invited 20 locally-based gluten-free bloggers, along with key traditional media, to participate an exclusive event at Root Down, a trendy Denver restaurant that caters to customers with food allergies. The dinner featured a completely gluten-free menu with two courses incorporating Rudi’s Gluten-Free breads, giving third-party influencers a chance to personally experience the product and brand at its very best, as well as spend time with peers and Rudi’s representatives. The event was timed around the Denver Metro Chapter of Celiac Sprue Association’s (CSA) 4th Annual Incredible Edible Gluten Free Fair, where Rudi’s was booked to be a headline sponsor, giving bloggers a reason to immediately cover the dinner, review the gluten-free breads, and announce the overall launch of the new, national gluten-free brand.
Every blogger and traditional media attendee positively covered the Root Down event and the launch of Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery at least once, including one key blogger who went from a skeptic to advocating on behalf of the brand. The partnership with Root Down also lead to an ongoing relationship that included the chef providing gluten-free recipes for use in media interview on KUSA-TV and KWGN-TV, as well as in future blogger and Facebook initiatives. The Root Down event, participation in the CSA Edible Gluten Free Fair, along with celiac support group outreach and other sampling programs, generated market share growth in Colorado within only a couple of months, as well as built awareness and demand nationwide.