Sunday, June 19, 2011

Safeway Has A Picnic in San Francisco Featuring the 'World's Longest Picnic Table' to Showcase its 'Open Nature' Natural Foods' Brand

Among its other accomplishments, Pleasanton, California-based Safeway Stores, Inc. now holds the Guinness record for having created the longest picnic table in the world.

Private Brand Showcase

It was impossible to ask the person sitting at the opposite end of the picnic table - let alone see him or her - to pass the salt and pepper at Friday's Safeway Stores, Inc. promotional picnic for its Open Nature natural foods private brand, which was held on San Francisco's famed Marina Green in the city's Marina District, which is where former Safeway Stores' chairman and CEO Peter Magowan, who's grandfather was Charles Merrill (1885-1956), co-founder (in 1915) of Merrill Lynch & Company and the investment banker who orchestrated the merger that created the Safeway chain in 1926, has lived for decades.

Why? Because at 305-feet and three inches the picnic table, which Safeway Stores' had custom-built out of sustainable Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified Douglas fir, was longer than a football field.

The football field-plus-long picnic table wasn't built specifically to accommodate the hundreds of picnickers (although it served that purpose well) who showed up for a lunch featuring Safeway's Open Nature brand products and cooked by celebrity chef Tyler Florance on Friday afternoon, however. Rather, it was, along with the grocer's natural foods' category private brand, the main event.

Friday was National Picnic Day and Safeway Stores' had the 100-plus-yard table built for a particular reason - to break the Guinness World Record for the Longest Picnic Table.

The Pleasanton, California-based grocery chain, which has it origins in nearby San Francisco, combined National Picnic Day Friday, featuring plenty of good eats prepared by Bay Area chef, restaurant owner and Food Network Star Tyler Florence, the waterfront setting of the city's Marina Green, which is across the street from one of Safeway's best-performing stores in the U.S. - the Marina Safeway - and its challenge of the longest picnic table world record into a fun promotion and showcase for its Open Nature private brand.

And we can report Safeway Stores' met its challenge, breaking the Guinness World Record for Longest Picnic Table, which was previously held by Deirdre Sargent of New Orleans City Park, New Orleans USA, who created a 248 foot and two inch picnic table in October 2009.

Ms. Sargent held the world's record from October 30, 2009 until Friday, June 18, when Guinness judge Kimberly Patrick, who attended the event at San Francisco's Marina Green, measured Safeway's football field-plus-long picnic table and pronounced the grocery chain the new holder of the world's record. At 305 feet and three inches, the Safeway table bested Ms Sargent's 2009 version by 57 feet and one inch.

We think Safeway should send former longest picnic table world record holder Deirdre Sargent a gift basket filled with Open Nature brand products, congratulating her - a gift from the new title-holder to the ex-title holder.

The crowd at Friday's picnic was a happy one. One picnicker was even spotted using a pair of binoculars so he could see from the end of the table he was sitting at farther down, perhaps wondering if the folks at the other end of the table were getting dessert, which were Parfaits made using a variety of Open Nature ice cream flavors, including Vanilla Bean and Mint Chocolate Chip.

Among the foods on the menu at Friday's lunch were: Smoked Andouille and Roasted Pepper Garlic Sausage, barbecued ribs and chicken (all Open Nature brand) Crispy Cabbage Slaw topped with Open Nature Blush Salad Dressing and Open Nature Summertime Potato Salad. You can see the complete lunch menu above.

Friday's picnic on San Francisco's Marina Green was also a  "green" affair of another nature.

For example, Safeway announced that for each tree used to build its 305-foot-plus picnic table made from sustainable wood, it was footing the bill to have 10 like-variety trees planted.

Additionally, care was taken to make sure all of the paper goods used at the picnic were recycled. And according to a Safeway representative, all of the leftover food from the lunch was donated to a local food bank.

The "green" "natural" and sustainable aspects of the picnic were as much a marketing message for Safeway's Open Nature brand as it was the correct thing to do from an environmental conservation standpoint.

Safeway Stores' president of marketing Mike Minasi highlighted the "natural" aspects of the picnic, saying: "Having lunch at the World's Longest Picnic Table on National Picnic Day is the perfect vehicle for celebrating our Open Nature (brand) promise that ingredients should come from nature and food should have as little processing as possible."

Celebrity chef and cook for the day Tyler Florence also reinforced the "natural" brand marketing message for Safeway, saying: "Food has always been important in my life and I think it is really important that people know where their food comes from. I really appreciate that Safeway's Open Nature is 100 percent natural with no gimmicks, so people can feel good about what they buy and what they cook."

We're fairly tough critics here at Fresh & Easy Buzz when it comes to brand promotions and events. But we have to give Safeway Stores' the grade of A for its picnic event on Friday, June 18 because the grocery chain combined numerous elements into a coherent whole to promote its Open Nature brand.

The event was also fun and soft sell rather than hard sell in terms of the Open Nature brand.

Brand Open Nature was the intended star on Friday from a marketing positioning standpoint for Safeway. But the grocery chain's corporate and Northern California division marketing staffs  let the quest to win the Guinness title for longest picnic table and the lunch itself, prepared by a famous chef with local ties, have equal billing.

The result, in our analysis, is that by doing this Safeway actually created a stronger brand message for Open Nature because of the soft sell, fun and co-billing (longest table challenge and Tyler Florence) aspects of the picnic on San Francisco's famed Marina Green.

And the Marina Safeway store across the street, which was made famous as a pick-up place for San Francisco singles decades ago by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning San Francisco newspaper columnist Herb Caen (and where the Marina Girl, aka Cameron Diaz, of movie fame shopped and looked for male companionship), got a healthy rush of business when the picnic on the Marina Green was over, according to a Fresh & Easy Buzz correspondent who visited the store, which had plenty of Open Nature brand products in stock and on display.

Related Stories

May 28, 2011: At The 'Brand Factory': Safeway Stores' Launches Newest Private Brand - 'Safeway Kitchens'

February 7, 2011: Getting There First...Plus, Are Tesco's Fresh & Easy and Safeway Traveling Down A Similar Private Brand Aisle?

January 5, 2011: Safeway Adds 'Open Nature' to its Natural-Organic-Healthy Foods' Private Brand Portfolio

April 8, 2011: The Branded 'Signature Cafe' in Safeway Stores' Soon to Open 'Social Safeway' in Washington D.C. Should Turn A Few Heads

July 21, 2010: 'Sipsational' & 'Quenchtastic': Safeway Introduces New 21-Flavor Line of Soft Drinks Under 'refreshe' Private Brand

Click on this link -  - to read additional stories about Safeway.

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Doug Buenz said...

Great event! Its one of the reasons why Pleasanton is one of the ideal places to live in.

Doug Buenz
Pleasanton Realtor

Fresh & Easy Buzz said...

One thing though Doug - Safeway held the picnic in San Francisco rather than Pleasanton.

Perhaps you should ask Safeway to hold a second longest picnic table in the word event in Pleasanon