In 2013 Foster Farms became the first major U.S. poultry producer to earn American Humane Association certification, committing the poultry producer to independent audits of living conditions, diet and behaviors, and transport and processing.
This made humanely raised/processed chicken widely available to West Coast consumers at major retailers such as Safeway, Costco, and Walmart.
In getting out the word—and scoring positive coverage for an often-controversial industry— Fineman PR wins the gold for Best Brand Messaging or Positioning in PR Daily’s 2014 Media Relations Awards.
“Before Foster Farms’ AHA certification, humane certification was limited to niche products at specialty retailers like Whole Foods,” Fineman reports. “As a top-10 U.S. poultry brand, Foster Farms wished to differentiate itself, raising the bar for the entire industry.”
It started with good, solid data. At Fineman’s suggestion, Foster Farms began by hiring a research firm to survey the public on their perceptions of how food animals are raised. Fineman also audited news coverage of humane issues to better understand the challenges they faced and develop a list of media influencers—and potential detractors.
Foster Farms sought to pre-empt consumer and media skepticism by showing what it takes to raise chickens humanely. The company announced its AHA certification program in the dedication of the Foster Farms Poultry Education and Research Facility at Fresno State University, the nation’s first collegiate poultry program to earn humane certification.
Three days before announcing the program, Fineman gave the San Francisco Chronicle advance access to cover the AHA certification audit at the facility at Fresno State, allowing interviews with AHA and Foster Farms representatives. The PR firm also developed multiple news hooks for each target media market and arranged events to maximize coverage there.
The rollout continued with a “humane road show” in seven key West Coast media markets, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. This featured a mobile exhibit and AHA’s 82-foot Red Star Rescue Rig, which has saved more than 70,000 animals from disasters over the previous five years.
Following the road show, Fineman arranged a “culinary media tour” to Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland by TV Chef Aida Mollenkamp (Food Network and Food Channel), who gave viewers tips on how to create a “humane table.”