Sweet potatoes have long been a special treat dotting our holiday tables. Everyone has his or her own special recipe. Yet, in the early 2000s overall consumption began leveling off. In response, the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission (NCSP) asked Padilla to help break this trend and create a year-round demand for sweet potatoes, while reaching millennials through digital channels.
We knew that the key to increased consumption for this old favorite was to reach newer audiences. Gaining acceptance among millennials would require a digital strategy, which had never been attempted by the NCSP.
We began with extensive research and completely re-engineered NCSP's website experience from the bottom up. New architecture, SEO, fresh content and an inviting design helped to bring in a wave of new visitors. To complement the site, we launched a full social media and blogger relations campaign to educate and drive awareness of this tasty tater. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube were all utilized to deliver new and innovative sweet potato recipes to younger, more food-savvy audiences. The "SweetBytes" blog was also added to the website to provide owned content and update members to the tune of a 487 percent increase in web traffic in the first year.
Site traffic, Google search and social media numbers all shattered campaign goals – some by as much as 480 percent. For these growers, what really matters is consumption. We delivered on that, too. In just two years, per capita sweet potato consumption soared more than 35 percent. It reached an all-time high of 7½ pounds in 2014 – a 60 percent increase over five years.