Unilever's Knorr Asks if Flavor Can Help You Find Love

'Love at First Taste' Campaign Targets Millennials

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Unilever is updating its biggest brand Knorr with a global campaign targeted at a generation raised on supper clubs, superstar chefs, food bloggers and #foodporn.

The "Love at First Taste" effort by MullenLowe asks whether flavor can help you find love. Knorr paired up individuals based on their matching food preferences and made a film showing each couple meeting for the first time over a meal for two. (Knorr is best known for products that add flavor, like sauces and bouillon cubes, but has expanded into side dishes and soups).

Directed by Tatia Pilieva – creator of the "First Kiss" film which won a Gold Lion at the 2014 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity – the Knorr film features similarly moving and intimate moments between complete strangers.

The only rule for the seven very diverse couples was that they had to feed one another – an idea that immediately fostered closeness between the participants, many of whom were touching, hugging and even kissing by the end of the meal. At least one couple is still together.

Ukonwa Ojo, senior global director, Knorr, said, "Knorr is sold in 87 countries. We could never represent all of them, but we wanted people watching to see the diversity. It feels global – there's a sense of the world and you can't place where it's shot." Of the ten couples originally filmed for the ad, one was gay, but that pair didn't make it into the final edit.

Ms. Ojo, an American, joined Unilever last August from Reckitt Benckiser, where she was global brand director for Durex and KY. (Before that she was a food marketer as a marketing manager for various General Mills brands in the U.S.) She said that few people realize Knorr is Unilever's biggest brand.

Knorr has also created a Flavor Profiler in partnership with IBM that identifies individuals as one of twelve types – from Tangy Dynamo and Gracious Grazer to Deap Sea Dreamer or Melty Indulger – and serves up recipe recommendations accordingly. The brand's research, conducted among 12,000 people in 12 countries, found that 78% of people are more likely to be attracted to someone who enjoys the same flavors.

Ms. Ojo, herself a Spicy Rebel, added, "There has never been a better time to be a food brand – the millennial audience is crazy about food – and cooking unites the generations. [The campaign] will excite people who love us today, and people who haven't tried us yet."

Last year, Knorr's "Flavor of Home" campaign showed a mother trekking across the Arctic to bring her daughter a home-cooked meal. Ms Ojo said, "We thought it would be great, once a year, for the brand to say what we believe in. Flavor is the magic that we bring to peoples' lives and it's more powerful than people give it credit for. We might not think about it a lot, but in our survey 75% said they would give up social media forever rather than give up flavor, and 68% said they would give up the right to vote – people have died for that!"

Unilever has partnered with Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat and Unruly as well as some new partners, including online foodie community Tastemade, for the campaign. The film has been carefully tailored for the various platforms using different lengths, and shifts in emphasis between the couples, flavor profiles and recipes.