Larabar, known for snack bars made with fruits and nuts, is debuting its first-ever TV advertising as the brand tries to appeal to people looking for "food made from food."
The brand, which is owned by General Mills, competes with rivals such as Kind in a better-for-you part of the snacking category. The bars take some cues from snacks seen as healthier, such as fruits, nuts and granola, and mix those ingredients with trends from the more indulgent side of snacking.
After years of marketing via sampling, along with digital and print, Larabar wants to reach out to a wider audience with TV advertising. The move comes as more people say they are looking for clean-label or free-from foods and follows expanded distribution of the line. The Larabar Original Fruit & Nut Food Bar line has seen a 20% compound annual growth rate in sales over the past two years.
"Recently what we've noticed is that more and more consumers are looking for simple, real foods," said Rosanne Ranta, marketing manager for Larabar. "We think that this is a perfect time to tell everyone what Larabar is all about, that we are made from just a few simple ingredients like fruits, nuts and spices."
As the brand's story goes, the idea to combine ingredients such as fruits and nuts into snack bars came to Lara Merriken while she was hiking in Colorado in 2000. She tested the products on family and friends at first, and her company Humm Foods was sold to General Mills in June 2008. Ms. Merriken is still involved in the business, which includes multiple Larabar flavors such as Apple Pie and Cappuccino, as well as other lines such as Alt protein bars.
Many food makers are trying to clean up their products. This month, for example, General Mills began advertising how cereals such as Trix no longer contain artificial colors or flavors. The company has previously said it expects strong growth from its natural and organic products, which along with Larabar include the Annie's brand.
Larabar's first TV commercial plays on the idea that a lot of packaged food is not made from real food. It shows the bars standing out in a grocery store where little boxes all seem the same. The band Lucius sings about how "some have food dyes and syrups and are made with preservatives." It is the first work for the brand from Fallon, with Haworth on media and Ketchum on PR.
The 60-second commercial and some 15-second spots are set to run beginning on Monday night, targeting people in the broad 18-to-45 age range, particularly those who are seeking simple ingredients, Ms. Ranta said.
Larabar will continue to promote itself with sampling. It is also partnering with and donating to Feeding America in a push for people to share real food and help make real food accessible to all people through donations and volunteering. The brand will promote that effort through social media with #Sharerealfood. Ms. Merriken is expected to appear at an event for the Feeding America partnership in New York on Tuesday.