Hillshire Snacking Skips Traditional Media in New Campaign

Protein-Focused Snacks To Be Promoted Online, Aided By Celebrity Event

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Credit: Courtesy Tyson Foods

Hillshire Snacking is kicking off a digital marketing push as the meat-focused brand tries to grab a bigger slice of the protein snacks category with a national product launch.

The brand is emphasizing attributes such as the chicken snacks being gluten-free and the snacks being "minimally processed" to appeal to foodie millennials and others who are snacking more often and for whom "the definition of a meal and a snack is increasingly blurred," said Megan Huddleston, director-marketing for the Hillshire Snacking brand.

Hillshire Snacking debuted back in 2014 with limited distribution in about 500 stores such as Super Target and two Kroger divisions. Now, the products have more of a Charcuterie look, with pieces of meat and slices of cheese fanned out rather than stacked, and tweaks such as moving to all natural cheese in response to consumer feedback. Distribution has expanded into chains such as Walmart and Meijer.

To target millennials and others with a "millennial mindset," as Ms. Huddleston says, the brand is reaching out through online platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The digital-only approach also allows the brand to adjust its approach more easily than traditional media, she said.

"For a new product launch it is a more unique way to go to market and to launch a new brand and a new product platform," she said. In fact, it appears to be the first time a Tyson brand has taken a digital-only approach to launch a marketing campaign.

Two :15 spots will run online, with no plans for TV.

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WPP's Y&R New York is the creative agency on the account, with VML on digital and BPN on media.

The campaign includes the tagline "A Snack Above" and will kick off with an event in New York Jan. 28 co-hosted by Andy Cohen of Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live." Footage from the event, which includes others such as chef Dale Talde, will be used in the online campaign that is expected to ramp up in February during National Snack Food Month.

The brand was conceived when Hillshire Brands was a standalone company, and is now owned by Tyson Foods. Hillshire Snacking is one of several protein-focused snacks to debut in recent years, along with Oscar Mayer's P3 packs of meat, cheese and nuts, Hormel' s REV wraps, and flavored jerky brands such as Krave. The brand emphasizes the products contain at least 15 grams of protein per serving.

The Hillshire nacks fall into two categories: "small plates" of salami, cheese and toasted rounds; and grilled chicken with dipping sauces such as mango habanero or spicy chipotle BBQ. Suggested pricing is $2.99 for the small plates and $2.49 for the chicken.

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