Sunday, July 23, 2000

What's the Buzz?

Gold Star crowns itself chili champ

By Lisa Biank Fasig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The bean team strikes again: A year after Gold Star unseated Skyline Chili in a chef's taste test for Cincinnati Magazine, the local chain designed its own test to retain bragging rights, and put it all into a commercial.

        Big surprise — Gold Star won its own blind taste test. But it hasn't won those commissioned by Skyline.

        In a tasting compared to the Pepsi Challenge, a team from Gold Star, its ad agency and a production company purchased pints of plain chili from both Gold Star and Skyline. The chili — which was kept warm at similar temperatures — was presented to more than 80 unsuspecting test subjects about two weeks ago in three locales: a baseball game, the Saint Martin Tours Festival at Harvest Home Park in Cheviot and the airport.

        A similar test was conducted in October 1999 with 466 interviews at the Gold Star Chilifest; the results of which led to the later test and subsequent ad campaign.

        Tim Gibson, vice president and creative director at Gibson, Freedman and White, said in all tests the chili was presented in look-alike bowls and labeled A and B, with the letters switched randomly. Tasters were then asked to pick their favorite.

        “They knew who was sponsoring the taste tests,” Mr. Gibson said of the more recent test, because sponsors wore Gold Star T-shirts.

        In the year-ago test, Gold Star did not identify itself nor did it reveal the chili brands before or after tasting, said Roger David, spokesman for Gold Star.

        Mr. David said roughly 70 percent of the subjects chose Gold Star.

        Ironically, competitor Skyline has its own annual taste tests conducted, showing it as the “far and away preferred chili brand,” said vice president for marketing Tom Allen.

        Expect to see some of Gold Star's responses in an ad campaign to be launched Monday.

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