In the age before Google, Butterball’s Turkey Talk Line, a 1-800 hotline number, helped home cooks serve up delicious turkeys on their Thanksgiving tables.
Butterball and PR agency Edelman launched the hotline in 1981, when six Turkey-cooking experts manned the phones to answer pressing questions.
Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, told Campaign US that the Turkey Talk Line was his father and the agency’s founder Daniel Edelman’s “proudest campaign.”
“He felt that it was the epitome of serving the client and the consumer,” said Edelman. “It was experiential in its own way, and it was a genuine service. It was also a good story and got a lot of coverage.”
As technology advanced, Butterball adapted its classic hotline to adjust with the times. People wanted “shorter, faster, more visual” ways of connecting with Turkey Talk line experts, said Edelman. “They're impatient, and that's fine,” he added. “We just have to be responsive to that.”
Cooks can now reach out via phone, text, email, online chat or through Amazon Alexa’s voice-enabled Talk-Line to ask their most pressing Turkey cooking questions.
Last year, The Turkey Talk Line went completely virtual during the pandemic. Turkey experts took calls from their home kitchens to provide customers with key information as they cooked at home for their pods.
Edelman used the Talk Line himself when he hosted Thanksgiving for the first time last year. His expert helped him learn basics like removing the giblets, folding the wings underneath, filling the cavity with vegetables or stuffing and coating the skin with vegetable oil.
This year, many millennials are also taking the holiday reigns for the first time. Fifty percent intend to host Thanksgiving this season, according to Butterball. And 77% of millennials who hosted in 2020 intend to host again this year.
A new generation of cooks are entering the kitchen, but the information they need remains the same. The delivery of that information, however, has been tweaked for this social-media first audience.
“Their questions are often the same we've been answering for 40 years: ‘How much do I need to buy? How long do I cook it? How long do I follow it?’” said Kyle Lock, senior director of retail marketing at Butterball. “The vehicles that we use to communicate with them have changed. We want to be right where they go to get most of their information, which for younger generations means the palm of their hand on their smartphone.”
So this year, Butterball will expand its Talk Line to TikTok. The brand is using the platform to share turkey cooking trends from its newly established Taste Kitchen in Naperville, IL.
Turkey experts test viral recipes and participate in TikTok trends like the “This or That” challenge and the “Tell Me Without Telling Me” challenge. Butterball plans to monitor engagement (i.e. likes and shares) on the platform and make adjustments as needed to serve millennials better.
“We can help this next generation of people who are picking up their hosting duties figure out ways just to make [Thanksgiving dinner] awesome,” said Lock.