Burt’s Bees Kicks Off Tour

NEW YORK It hasn’t been a big media spender since its 1989 inception, but Burt’s Bees has found an effective way to engage customers the old-fashioned way: face to face.

Last Friday, the maker of natural skin-care products kicked off the “Burt’s Bees Bee-utify Your World Tour,” the second such undertaking in two years. Working with the AMP Agency, a unit of Alloy Media + Marketing, the company constructed a giant mobile “hive” that is traveling to different events in 15 U.S. cities, where prospective consumers can sample the client’s products through on-site hand massages and skin-care consultations.

They can also contribute to the “What Do You Do for the Environment?” chalkboard. The best 50 entries in each city will receive a free sapling tree to plant to offset carbon emissions.

“Consumers really needed to get to know the breadth of Burt’s Bees products,” said Allison Lane, the client’s senior manager of marketing services. “There are over 100 of them. The number one comment from people coming through last year was ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know you made all of that.’ They would spend 15 to 20 minutes learning about our products. How they’re made, why natural products work better.”

She wouldn’t comment on the cost of the tour, but acknowledged it is far less than the $6 million media spend the company had in 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, the highest media spend for the company in five years.

In January, Durham, N.C.-based Burt’s Bees hired Interpublic Group’s The Martin Agency after a review in which the incumbent, Young & Rubicam’s BrandBuzz, did not participate. Lane said the new advertising campaign, expected in the third quarter, does not include TV.

Instead, Martin is working on brand strategy and a print and online campaign. It will also handle media, Lane said.

There will be some advertising to complement the products tour, which began in Houston, lands in New York April 20-21 for Earth Day and concludes in San Francisco on July 22.

“That kind of feedback on site, through out Web sites and our consumer hotline was invaluable,” Lane said of last year’s effort.