Unbeknownst to me, for more than 30 years, professionally trained turkey experts that make up a Turkey Talk-Line at Butterball have been answering turkey related questions each holiday season. The Talk line is open every November and December with experts that answer questions for thousands of households around the United States and Canada. What started off as 11,000 answered calls in 1981 turned into a staff of 50+ experts interacting with over 3 million home cooks.
Certified Turkey experts graduate from Butterball University.
Since the humble beginnings of the Turkey-Talk Line, Butterball has added a podcast called TurkeyTalk in 2004, began offering cooking tips on Facebook and Twitter in 2008, and unveiled a turkey search engine two years ago. Customers can also chat with experts online and as of November 2016 text messaging is also available hoping to attract telephone-averse millennials.
To gear up for Thanksgiving, and hopefully sell a few Butterball Turkeys, The Butterball experts reached out to potential customers by letting them know they had their back with the hotline. Butterball announced that they could call (and also Tweet) anytime to get advice on all things turkey-related, while of course poking some fun at cooking problems.
Some of the calls and customer interactions are pretty straightforward and others are, well, a little strange.
Sue Smith, a registered dietitian and 17-year vet of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line shares some of her craziest experiences at the Talk-Line:
Turkey Bath. “Recently, a mom called us who was just getting home from work. She had asked her husband to thaw the turkey and get it ready for Thanksgiving. When she walked upstairs, she found her husband giving their twin boys a bath, and next to those boys was a turkey floating in the bathtub as well. In order to thaw your turkey properly, we want it in its own cold water bath… in the sink.”
I have a Turkey Secret. “I like hearing from the first-time cooks. A newlywed called in and was whispering real quiet. I could hardly hear her. I found out she was hiding in a closet upstairs, and she didn’t want her in-laws to know she’d never prepared a turkey. She was so nervous she wasn’t going to prepare it correctly. We walked her through it, and by the end she was talking loudly, feeling confident, and ready to go.”
I left my turkey in the car overnight. Is it still OK to eat? “One caller accidentally left his turkey in the car overnight and didn’t want his wife to know. The caller was from Florida, so the talk line expert said it probably wasn’t safe to eat.” (Guys, remember to bring in all the groceries.)
The Butterball marketing campaign increases customer engagement by creating online and offline communication while forming an emotional connection to the brand by “saving” or enhancing their Thanksgiving holiday. Was Butterball Turkey ahead of the time when this started 35 years ago? I would say so!