Not just for sandwiches

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Unilever Bestfoods this month unveils major umbrella efforts for its "master brands" Hellmann's and Skippy, introducing consumers to new uses for mayonnaise and peanut butter.

Both initiatives are indicative of parent Unilever's push to integrate efforts across its biggest brand platforms as a way to drive growth. Sales for both Hellmann's and Skippy were up roughly 1% in 2003, according to Information Resources Inc. data, and Unilever hopes to do better, especially as analysts observe that the low-carb craze presents greater opportunities for fat-laden categories.

For Hellmann's, Unilever is launching a print and online campaign under the "Bring Out" theme from new agency Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, a unit of WPP Group, that focuses on unexpected mayonnaise-based recipes such as hot artichoke dip. Skippy, too, will get a newly revitalized ad look with a computer-animated TV effort featuring a band of elephants called the Nutshells, who will initially sing the praises of Skippy Snack Bars as a great on-the-go way to consume the brand.

single-minded

The "Bring Out" campaign is more single-minded than the fragmented recent efforts for Hellmann's and will therefore command a greater investment, according to Hellmann's Senior Brand Manager Ali Tadlaoui. TNS Media Intelligence/CMR reports Unilever spent $15 million on the brand in 2003. Playing off its longtime tagline, "Bring out the Hellmann's, bring out the best," the effort aims to "offer more of an urgent invitation to bring out the best in food, in people, in yourself," Mr. Tadlaoui said.

The impetus for the recipe-based concept was born out of the low-carb craze, which, while helping the category because of less consumer concern over fat, has also meant that people are making fewer sandwiches, so dialing up the brand's versatility in recipes, such as honey dijon chicken and mashed cauliflower, is crucial.

The campaign dovetails with new packaging this June for Hellmann's that similarly aims to contemporize the brand (including touting its zero grams of carbs) and align it on retail shelves with other non-mayonnaise Hellman's products, among them tartar sauce and mustard.

Skippy likewise hopes to align its various products, including a line of Skippy Snack Bars, under one theme. To communicate in an original way how the household staple is being offered in a more convenient form, Skippy and its agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, developed an integrated TV, radio and online effort centered around realistically animated peanut-loving elephants. Via song and dance, the Nutshells ensure kids and adults alike that "What's in the jar is in the bar." The elephant group "has the power to go across the brand," said Skippy senior brand manager Trish Zenobi, who said the next phase for the Skippy team will be to look for ways to do just that. Unilever spent $9.3 million in media on Skippy last year, largely to push the convenient Skippy Squeeze It tube variety.

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