Published on: April 20, 2011by Kate McMahon
Step aside, “Real Housewives” of reality TV fame. Make way for the “Real Women of Philadelphia,” currently spreading the gospel of Philly Cream Cheese on their own YouTube channel.
Now in its second season, the online-only show is hosted by down home-cooking diva, author and TV personality Paula Deen. Philadelphia Cream Cheese launched the “RWoP” recipe contest series last year to promote the iconic brand as a versatile cooking ingredient, not just a spread (or as they say in New York, a “schmear”) for a bagel.
One click on the show confirms that the days of neighbors trading recipe cards or community “bake-offs” have been replaced by uploaded videos of “real women” channeling their inner Julia Child in front of a camera. Or as Paula drawls in her welcome, “So glad to see y’all on the other end of that computer.”
The campaign exemplifies how social networking has helped a product invented back in 1880 (by a dairy farmer in upstate New York, not Philly) reinvent itself and become more relevant 130 years later.
“RWoP” Season 2, which began April 4, asks home cooks to create short, entertaining videos to showcase their original recipes using Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and its new product Cooking Crème, a refrigerated “spoonable crème” available in four flavors.
The contest categories include appetizer, side dish, main dish and dessert. (This week’s contest, for the entrée, mandates use of the Cooking Crème.) Four finalists in each category will be chosen and flown to Paula’s hometown Savannah, GA for a live cook-off June 30 streamed on pauladeen.com. The final four will win $25,000 each and other cooking appearances and perks.
The first “RWoP” drew more than 5,000 video submissions, and more than 40,000 users registered on the site to view the clips and participate in online chats and recipe swaps. Philly cream cheese sales revenues, which had been flat for years, were up 5.6% over the previous 12 month period.
What separates “RWoP” from the multitude of recipe sites and cooking blogs out there is the sense of “community” among the members – a term that is reiterated throughout the site and companion social networking outlets such as FaceBook and Twitter.
In fact, the folks at Philadelphia set out to have “a conversation with our consumers” rather than just talking at them or developing recipes. Said brand manager Adam Butler: "We were absolutely overwhelmed and thoroughly excited by the tremendous response, engagement, and authenticity of the community we saw in last year's competition.”
Though I am typically skeptical of such effusive proclamations, there is a real energy and excitement on the site. In addition to recipes, the members share advice, shopping hints and shout-outs of appreciation and encouragement. The videos are entertaining, and the recipes far more appealing and eclectic than what I would have expected from cream cheese. And I was immediately inspired to pick up a container of the Italian Cheese and Herb Cooking Crème to try the Chicken Primavera Pasta recipe for dinner.
And there you have it. That is why the social networking campaign works. (Though my teenager daughters can rest assured I will be testing recipes at home, and not submitting videos online, with the Cooking Crème. Whew.)
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- KC's View: