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The Vidalia Onion Committee, which represents South Georgia growers in the region where America’s favorite sweet onions are grown, wants consumers to take their product outside. Literally.

After smashing marketing successes the last three seasons — first with the wildly popular partnership with the Hollywood blockbuster “Shrek IV” in 2010 and then country music pairings with artists from the Universal Music Group in 2011-12 — the committee thought it was time to change things up. Market research showed a new emphasis on home entertaining outdoors. VOCVidalia Onion Committee Executive Director Wendy Brannen. (Photo by Jon Carter)The next step was logical.

Enter the Sweet Vidalia Flavors of Summer promotion, which will partner up Vidalia onions with several other well-known brands to help drive sales and provide consumers with the ultimate outdoor summer dining experience.

The committee, based in Vidalia, GA, has partnered with Johnsonville Sausage, the National Mango Board, Avocados from Mexico, Stemilt Cherries, Gourmet Garden Spice and the National Watermelon Promotion Board for the Sweet Vidalia Flavors of Summer promotional program.

“With the Sweet Vidalia Flavors of Summer promotion we are bringing in other food product partners to do an all-encompassing program that is about everything outdoors: summer, entertaining, grilling and eating outdoors will be the buzzwords,” said VOC Executive Director Wendy Brannen. “The popularity of outdoor kitchens and entertaining has risen exponentially. It’s definitely a trend right now. The Food Channel actually named outdoor kitchens as one of the top food trends in 2012 — 82 percent of all U.S. households own a grill or smoker and almost 100 percent actually use them ever year.”

Partnering up for a multi-participant campaign gives the VOC more resources to spread its message across the country.

“We’ll offer an integrated marketing campaign that includes on-pack messaging, a national consumer contest, a campaign website devoted to being a resource for consumers and point-of-sale materials all surrounding the Sweet Vidalia Flavors of Summer theme,” Ms. Brannen said.

The theme will be central to all advertising and public relations outreach as well as social media messaging.

“Last year we also had extremely positive results with our social media. We started a brand new Facebook page last year that garnered 35,700 fans in the four month promotional window so we’ll be building on the success of last year’s program to increase those figures even more through the Sweet Vidalia Flavors of Summer promotion,” Ms. Brannen said.

The VOC will plan special holiday themed social media messaging via Facebook and other outlets like Pinterest, along with a micro-website devoted to the Flavors theme.

“Expect to see a lot of activity from our partners there as well,” Ms. Brannen said. “All of these iconic summer brands have joined together to make a bigger and better promotion for our partners and retail consumers.”

An online couponing promotion proved so successful last year that the committee will be bringing it back for 2013. More than one-fourth of consumers who downloaded Vidalia onion coupons last year redeemed them — far above the average 8-10 percent redemption rate for coupons.

Also returning will be retail display and consumer contests.