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Batter up for Jennie-O Turkey Store during World Series

WILLMAR -- A hometown company had national exposure during the televised games of the World Series, which ended last night.

Jennie-O Turkey Store sponsored the call to the bullpen when a new pitcher entered the World Series games, broadcast on Fox TV.

"Since Jennie-O Turkey Store is trying to get people to make the switch to turkey, we decided that sponsoring the 'pitcher switch' was a fun and relevant tie-in," said Jen Ehresmann, director of marketing at Jennie-O Turkey Store.

She said The Willmar-based Jennie-O Turkey Store marketing team developed the campaign in collaboration with advertising agencies in Minnesota.

"The World Series was selected as an advertising partner because of its high viewership," she said, adding that baseball is a family friendly sport and heavily watched by both men and women.

It's estimated that about six million people watched the first game of the series, which was strung out for an entire seven-game run.

When asked, Jennie-O officials said information about how much the ads cost was "unavailable" but published reports say a 30-second ad during the World Series cost $450,000-500,000.

The Jennie-O advertisements promoted the company's turkey burgers, even though Thanksgiving is around the corner.

"While a whole turkey on Thanksgiving is a timeless American classic and more than five million households will have a Jennie-O Turkey Store turkey on their table this holiday season, we want consumers to know turkey is a great, everyday choice the other 364 days of the year," said Ehresmann.

She said more than 250 million Jennie-O turkey burgers are sold in grocery stores and restaurants each year.

"The World Series is one of the highlights of our current advertising campaign to get people to eat more turkey by switching it into their favorite foods, one of which is burgers," said Ehresmann. "Burgers and baseball are a perfect fit."

This isn't the first major event Jennie-O has targeted for marketing.

For the past two years the company sponsored the Emmy Awards and it has a long-standing major partnership with NBC's The Biggest Loser.

Jennie-O's advertising campaign also includes television commercials on popular evening and daytime programs and they've launched a new website and Facebook page -- SwitchToTurkey, where more than 150,000 Facebook fans have been exchanging their favorite Jennie-O Turkey Store recipes and ideas.

Ehresmann said the national spotlight can astonish some Willmar folks.

"We are proud of the fact that Jennie-O Turkey Store is a hometown company, but it often comes as a surprise when people learn that we are a powerhouse in the industry," said Ehresmann, adding that the company sells products all 50 states and it is the "number one known turkey brand nationally." The company also has a strong export industry, she said.