Plenty of big food brands are trying to reclaim consumer trust
by overhauling their products as part of the so-called "clean label
movement." For example, condiment marketer
French's on Wednesday unveiled the "French's
Promise," which includes putting a new "promise seal" on products
beginning in January that pledges "Great Taste, Real Ingredients,
True Commitment to our Communities." The company says it spent 2015
refining its product recipes and "today, more than 90% of the
company's products now include only real ingredients, without
artificial flavors, colorants, dyes or high-fructose corn syrup
(HFCS)." The effort will be supported by a new TV and online
campaign. Meanwhile, French's has launched two new products:
French's Super Yellow Mustard, which uses "#1 grade mustard seeds
and more turmeric spice;" and French's Buffalo Ketchup, which is
infused with Frank's RedHot and is marketed as
"High-Fructose Corn Syrup Free." French's and Frank's are owned by
RB, formerly known as Reckitt-Benckiser.
Onto some more lighthearted news -- like Christmas sweater
marketing. Last week, Lowdown covered Skyy Vodka's
"sweater bottle" that is part of a holiday campaign. Now comes
Miller Lite, which has enlisted Brooklyn-based
street artist London Kaye to design and build a
giant knit holiday sweater-themed billboard at the corner of 7th
Avenue and 49th Street in New York City. Take a look:
Church & Dwight Co.'s
OxiClean has been a big sponsor of Major
League Baseball: Its deal even temporarily muscled Tide
off the new scoreboard that Procter & Gamble Co. paid to build at its
hometown Great American Ballpark before the
All-Star Game in Cincinnati last July. But now OxiClean is reaching
deep into small-time sports for two new 30-second ads from
Ferrara & Co. featuring endorsements from the
Franklin County (Kentucky) High School football team. Zagging to
high-school sports wasn't part of any grand plan. It all came from
a fan letter the school's equipment manager, Sam
Brough, wrote to the brand with "before" and "after"
pictures of team uniforms treated with the product, said
Michael Vercelletto, OxiClean group brand manager.
He also got a jersey from the team, which he brought to the brand's
annual planning meeting, just as an inspirational aside to show
"we're impacting people's lives here." Mr. Vercelletto got such
good reaction internally to the story that he ultimately decided to
visit the school this fall, bringing a camera crew that shot
footage for the ads.
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers made two
non-hamburger marketing announcements this week. First, its two
kids' pasta meals will now officially be "bottomless," so hungry
kids can get refills of mac and cheese or pasta with sauce like its
patrons get refills on drinks and fries. The kids' pasta had been
secretly bottomless until the practice was rescinded in June, and
the chain said letters from kids and other feedback led to its
less-than-secret return. The plan was announced online with a video
featuring CEO Steve Carley, ahead of a planned
full-page ad set to run Wednesday in The Denver
Red Robin also said it would give out free chicken burgers Dec.
10 to people with names derived from the name of Santa -- so
something like Christopher, Christine, Nicole or Nicholas will do.
(No idea whether Saint West qualifies.) It's part of the ongoing
#NameThatChicken contest for a sandwich that includes a grilled
chicken breast, arugula, fontina cheese, peppered bacon and
oven-roasted tomato aioli.
In other restaurant news, Buffalo Wild Wings is
using a variety of marketing tactics to promote the chain and its
second-year sponsorship of the Citrus Bowl. Zesty Citrus Sauce,
created in partnership with Mountain Dew, will be a limited-time
sauce available Dec. 14 to Jan. 2, and is being described as
Mountain Dew infused with lemongrass and spicy red pepper flakes.
Spectators at the game (the Jan. 1 bowl pits the Michigan
Wolverines against the Florida Gators and
will air on ABC) can get Buffalo Wild Wings
boneless wings in Zesty Citrus and Honey BBQ, as well as chicken
tenders at concession stands. A video board at the game will stream
reactions from restaurants in the team's regions: Ann Arbor, Mich.
and Lake City, Fla. The chain also said it would donate at least
$2.7 million to Boys & Girls Clubs of
Meanwhile, McDonald's Canada is entering the
next phase of a contest in which restaurant employees submit menu
ideas. In the "Secret Secret Menu Challenge," burger or wrap
recipes had to use existing McDonald's ingredients. The contest was
pulled together by creative agency Cossette and the Ontario Regional McDonald's
marketing team and included a video poking fun at company secrecy
Judging begins for the top eight
recipes, which include a McFish & Chips wrap and a Grilled
Cheese Burger. Next year, a grand prize winner will get $10,000 and
a bonus $500 for his or her restaurant. The runner up will get
$5,000, with a third place finisher netting $2,500 and the winner
of the people's choice taking home $1,000.
Finally, a couple of notes about holiday shopping.
About 15% of consumers will shop at the last minute this season,
according to a recent study from software company
Vennli. The majority -- or 69% -- of that group
plans to buy at Target, the study found, though
Nordstrom and Macy's are also
expected to attract late shoppers. That's good news for Target's
new Wonderland pop-up store, a game-and-activity-filled space that
will operate only between Dec. 9 and Dec. 22. "Not only are people
searching for gifts, but they're increasingly searching for
experiences," said Target Chief Creative Officer Todd
Waterbury of the effort. Meanwhile, Boston
Consulting Group is out with a new survey stating that
four in 10 millennials say they'll spend more this holiday season
than last, compared with only 24% of older generations. And 55% of
millennials said they would try a new brand this season, versus
only 36% of the rest of the population.
Some of these young shoppers will undoubtedly be looking for
brands they can trust.
Contributing: Jessica Wohl, E.J. Schultz, Jack Neff,