Competition in the cage-free egg industry is heating up. Retailers, just like restaurants and packaged food makers, are laying out plans to transition to cage-free eggs as consumers want to buy from companies treating animals more humanely.
"We need to really make an emotional connection with consumers in a category that is really changing right now and really cluttered," said Pete and Gerry's CEO Jesse Laflamme.
New Hampshire-based Pete and Gerry's sells certified humane and free-range eggs from family farms. Mr. Laflamme asserts there are big differences between those farms and the large, crowded barns where cage-free eggs may be raised for bigger corporations.
"What we do, our production methods and the ethics and mission of the company is very, very different from what the sort of commoditized, cage-free eggs are and will ultimately be," he said.
Pete and Gerry's marketing has ramped up in the past few years as the company has been working on its U.S. expansion. It previously worked with Taxi on creative and Women's Marketing on media.
The Pete and Gerry's organic brand is named for Mr. Laflamme's cousin and father, respectively. Nellie's draws its name from a pet hen Mr. Laflamme had when he was four, underscoring the company's farm roots.
"We don't have to dig deep to find the story, we just have to tell the story that's right in front of us," said Mark Figliulo, founder and CEO, Figliulo & Partners.
SwellShark worked with Pete and Gerry's on a project in late 2015 and took on an official media role earlier this year. It is helping shift the mix, which was largely digital and print, to include everything from terrestrial and digital audio to digital video, some TV and very targeted programmatic, said SwellShark President Mary Perhach.
Pete and Gerry's, the company's largest brand in dollar sales, grew a little more than 50% in 2015 while Nellie's sales jumped just over 90%, Mr. Laflamme said. Nellie's is relatively close to Pete and Gerry's in terms of volume but sells for about $1 less per dozen because it is not organic. Figliulo & Partners and SwellShark will also work with its smaller, higher-end Carol's Heirloom and Pasture Raised brands.