USPB Japan Celebrates Global Cuisine

Potato Airlines GO! GO! GO! campaign an online success

Published online: Apr 13, 2015
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The U.S. Potato Board (USPB) representative office just completed a month-long celebration of global potato cuisine featuring U.S. potatoes. As part of the American Smart Potato (SMAPO) program, now in its third year, an online campaign called “Potato Airlines GO! GO! GO!” was launched.

“The USPB Japan representative office wanted to get more coverage and more innovative potato cuisine ideas out to the public,” explained Susan Weller, USPB global foodservice marketing manager. “So they decided to focus on potato dishes from around the world.

“Potato Airlines is a transformation of USPB Japan’s Smart Potato program. The purpose was to introduce traditional and authentic potato cuisine to the public and Japan’s foodservice trade. This truly represents a global promotion of U.S. potatoes, thoughtfully executed by the USPB Japan representative office. The campaign even integrated USPB research and U.S. market-based assets like videos from APRE nutritionists proclaiming the nutritional benefits of potatoes.”

While Japan is a land of traditions, it is also the home of innovation. Restaurants and retailers constantly change their menus and food items being offered as consumers demand new dishes and cuisines. Food, in particular, is an area where the Japanese want to try new approaches. The USPB took advantage of this desire for something new to transform how consumers look at potatoes and how they will want to eat them in the future. The restaurants that are part of the Smart Potato campaign will be able to offer consumers not only a new potato dish but, more importantly, new cuisine to try.

The USPB Japan representative office contacted each of their associate USPB representative offices in Mexico, Central America and Asia. They polled each office and asked, What potato dishes are celebrated in your land? What potato recipes from your country are famous and iconic? They proactively researched potato cuisine in other countries like Spain and Kenya for the online promotion’s European and African Potato Airline destinations.

With world potato cuisines in hand, along with chefs and fellow USPB representatives to serve as spokespersons for each country, the USPB Japan representative office created its Potato Airlines GO! GO! GO! campaign—an online tour of world potato cuisine. “GO” is the number “5” in Japanese, and is a good-luck number in Japanese culture. And for 555 lucky winners, Potato Airlines GO! GO! GO! was a particularly fortunate event. The campaign officially launched Feb. 25th and concluded March 31.

The Potato Airlines website featured a contest with quizzes about potatoes and world cuisine for site visitors. Quiz participants were entered into a contest drawing. One lucky winner received a Potato Airlines suitcase, five people won world beer sets and 549 people were awarded with USPB original sticky notes or a Potato Airlines original build-up model airplane. Foodservice providers in the Smart Potato program benefited from this program by seeing which world potato cuisines contest participants were particularly drawn to, along with new U.S. potato recipe ideas for future restaurant menus.

During the promotion, the site had 62,457 visits, 59,454 unique users and 78,185 page views. Forty-eight web media sites and two magazines picked up on USPB Japan’s news release about this campaign, which also received 92 Facebook posts and 272 Twitter tweets. A total of 31,794 people participated in this campaign, a much higher number than had been expected.

When restaurants in Japan are provided with these global potato recipe ideas along with strong interest demonstrated by consumers, the USPB will have a much greater chance of influencing restaurants to add more dishes made with U.S. potatoes. Future launches of these global potato dishes made with U.S. potatoes will create new channels and sales opportunities for U.S. potatoes in Japan.