Skippy is playing on smoothness, both literal and figurative, in new marketing that leans on the No. 2 peanut butter's somewhat recent cultural shoutout -- if you can call four years recent.
The "Be Smooth Like Skippy" campaign includes the line "smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy" from the 2014 hit "Uptown Funk."
"We've thought about that line since the song came out," says Jen Nolander, marketing director in grocery products marketing for Hormel Foods. "We knew that music was going to be a very important part of this campaign and as we evaluated music we knew that 'Uptown Funk' was the only answer."
And, for the first time, Skippy is using the same idea to sell both peanut butter and snacks. Separate ads for Skippy peanut butter, Skippy Natural peanut butter and Skippy P.B. Bites feature the new tagline "Be Smooth Like Skippy." The campaign comes from BBDO Minneapolis.
Skippy licensed the use of the lyrics "smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy" from the Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars song, which is heard at the end of the spots.
But don't expect Mars to dance across the screen. Skippy's campaign instead relies on child actor Cooper Friedman pulling off a bit of a smooth yet approachable kid attitude.
Skippy hinted at its use of the lyrics in a tweet sent to congratulate Mars on his Grammy wins in January.
BBDO Minneapolis came up with the idea for the tweet, Nolander says.
Hormel Foods Corp.'s Skippy brand is the nation's second-biggest peanut butter behind J.M. Smucker Co.'s Jif, which holds a commanding lead. Jif held 36.4 percent of the $2 billion nut and seeds-based spreads category in 2017, followed by Skippy with 18.3 percent and Conagra's Peter Pan with 8 percent, according to Euromonitor International. Jif and Skippy each saw sales drop by about 1 percent last year, while Peter Pan fell 11 percent, according to Euromonitor data. Some of the brands' competition comes from non-peanut spreads. They also compete against specialty brands such as Justin's, which Hormel acquired in 2016, three years after it bought Skippy from Unilever.
A "Skippy Yippee" campaign from BBDO Minneapolis introduced in 2014 was the brand's first campaign in more than five years. A campaign for P.B. Bites playing on the idea of being so hungry one could eat a horse followed in 2016. Skippy saw "great results" from the Skippy Yippee and that wording may still appear from time to time. For now, "be smooth like Skippy" is the focus and the campaign is set to run all year, says Nolander.
Jif has recently been part of Smucker's Olympics-themed marketing. And, like Skippy, it's diving deeper into the snack space, with plans for Jif Power Ups granola bars and granola and peanut butter clusters, and Jif Poppers, snacks with peanut butter-coated popcorn and other ingredients. Skippy will likely have new product announcements "relatively soon," says Nolander.
While media spending on Skippy's new campaign was not disclosed, the brand is clearly a priority for Hormel, which is increasing its advertising spending in 2018. Last week, the company said it plans to invest some of its funds from new tax cuts on Skippy and other brands, including Jennie-O, Hormel Pepperoni, Muscle Milk and Evolve.
The core peanut butter ads will get TV airtime, while spots for P.B. Bites and Skippy Natural will run online. Media planning and buying were done by PHD Worldwide in Chicago.