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The Search for Britain's Perfect Scone / Mackenzie & Cruickshank

Mackenzie & Cruickshank is a family-run garden centre and department store in Forres, north-east Scotland. Stocking everything from garden gnomes to gladioli, the centre’s popular tearoom’s home-baking is also something of a local legend – selling 50,000 of their home-made scones per year.

Platform PR was asked to come up with a quick, quirky and cost-effective way to promote the garden centre tearoom and its sister cafe in its store on Forres High Street.

The Brief

Increase the profile of Mackenzie & Cruickshank locally and nationally. Highlight the role of Mackenzie & Cruickshank as a successful local employer.?Increase visitors to both tearooms.

What We Did

  • We decided to capitalise on the popularity of Mackenzie & Cruickshank’s home baking by launching a UK-wide search for Britain’s Perfect Scone.
  • From the beginning, the public helped us generate a stream of quirky news hooks with their bizarre recipes: baked bean & sausage; haggis & cheese; and gin & tonic were just some of the suggestions we received.
  • A local design agency set up a dedicated website, www.perfectscone.com, to make it easy for customers to get involved and submit their recipes. Offline, people could pick up an entry form at the garden centre.
  • We also created a social media release with images and links, designed to be spread via social networking sites.
  • We sent individual letters, along with some unusual scones to sample, to radio and television personalities, with a call to action to help us find “Britain’s Perfect Scone”. Sample scones were posted or hand-delivered to local and national newspapers.
  • Meanwhile, tearoom customers were able to literally have their cake and eat it as each flavour was tested by the in-store bakers and trialled throughout May in a scone taste test.
  • Finally, the top three scone flavours were made into mini scones for customers to sample and vote on their favourite flavour. After a heated contest, we broke the news that the search was over, Britain’s Perfect Scone was revealed to be … Honey and Pecan.

What We Delivered

  • During the campaign, visitor numbers at the garden centre tearoom increased by 14%, and at the High Street tearoom by 10%.
  • We persuaded some high-profile media stars to back our campaign: BBC Scotland’s Fred MacAulay Show and STV’s magazine show The Hour both ran segments debating the merits of the shortlisted creations and the status of the scone as a treasured British culinary tradition.
  • We even got a mention (between mouthfuls) on Terry Wogan’s BBC 2 breakfast show.
  • We reached a combined audience of more than 9 million people and received more than 300 competition entries.
  • We achieved coverage in all target media outlets – often, more than once – generating articles in everything from The Sunday Times, to The Sun, to the Forres Gazette.
  • We delivered prominent broadcast spots with a combined audience of 6,699,000 – including a tasting on STV’s flagship early-evening show.
  • Online, our story featured on 10 different sites. The social media release was picked up on Facebook and Twitter, resulting in exclusively Twitter-generated coverage on regional news site Moray Firth Live.
  • In total, the AVE for all coverage was £74,421, and the tone unremittingly positive. And the cherry on the top – our key messages were carried in almost all of the coverage generated.

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