Cree is an emerging brand in a space dominated by very old and very big brands—we’re talking light bulbs. While 80 percent of Cree’s overall business is commercial, this season the brand took a decidedly consumer-facing approach to reach its target with the Great American Bulb Swap Tour. Over three weekends, the brand distributed more than 15,000 Cree LED bulbs in high-traffic locations and educating consumers on all things LED.
“People work, too, and so just like every other type of category, from laptop computers to smartphones—products that went into offices were brought in by consumers first,” says Mike Watson, vp-corporate marketing and product strategy. “Our overall goal is to engage consumers directly, get them to understand the value of LED light and the difference between Cree and our competitors, so they can spread the word and bring our brand not only into their homes, but into the commercial environment as well.”
The tour stops included South Street Seaport in New York City Nov. 14-16, Reader’s Park in Boston Nov. 21-23, and Eastern Market in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5-7. The markets were chosen in part because of their high energy rates, as well as their foot traffic—both locals and tourists—to spread brand awareness even further.
At each stop, consumers were encouraged to bring their old incandescent bulbs or fluorescent bulbs to recycle or exchange for the new Cree LED bulb out of Cree’s branded vending truck. The truck featured a touch-screen monitor that allowed consumers to access the Cree LED Savings Calculator, detailing how much they’d save by switching to LED bulbs. There was a photo op with Cree mascot “Bulby,” tied to email and a drive to social; a ring-toss game for a Cree-branded prize and a sweepstakes to enter to win a whole-house bulb makeover.
“The light bulb category is a 100-plus years old and you’d think it’s a low-interest category, but if you get people to even consider a light bulb, they get very excited, much more excited than you’d ever believe,” Watson says. “We know that from our merchandising efforts that consumers often buy trial amounts, but 50 percent come back and swap out their house with more, so with this tour we know that if they try the bulb, we believe they’ll go out and buy more.” Agencies: BGM Experiential, Boston; 360 Public Relations, Boston.