McCain - It's All Good Launch

Packaged Goods--Food/Other (GOLD)
Best Launch (GOLD)

Client Credits: McCain Foods
President McCain Canada: Fred Schaeffer
VP Marketing: Heather Crees
VP Research: Bettie Lye
Brand Director, Potato & Appetizer: Mike O'Brien
Brand Director, Pizza & Snacks: Jeff O'Neill
Brand Director, Strategy & Innovation: Paul Kurvits

Agency Credits: TAXI Toronto
VP Executive Strategic Director: Maxine Thomas
Group Account Director: Talke Krauskopf
Account Managers: Karen MacPherson, Abby Yew, Julie McGregor
Chief Creative Officer: Steve Mykolyn
Executive Creative Director: Darren Clarke
Associate Creative Director: Irfan Khan
Copywriter: Irfan Khan
Art Director: Maria Ward
Broadcast Producer: Sam Benson
Designer: Leo Tsalkos
PR Agency: Veritas Communications Inc.
Media Agency: AOR Media Management Inc.
Promotion/Interactive Agency: Capital C
Packaging Design Agency: Anthem
Production House: Code Film, Relish Editing, Tantrum

Crossover Notes:
Crossover Notes: All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2012 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 10. Conventional Wisdom—should it be challenged?
Crossover Note 11. The Eureka Insight.
Crossover Note 32. Internal Marketing.

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):January 2010 – January 2011
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: January 13, 2010
Base Period as a Benchmark: January 2009 – January 2010

a) Overall Assessment
We are what we eat. It’s an old adage, but one that is increasingly something that moms in particular are thinking about. Women who once would have bought convenient, processed foods and put them on the table without a second thought are now beginning to wonder if that’s a good idea. In the last few years, a basic, everyday thing like food has become a hot topic. Concerns are emerging about the things we put into our food and what they might do to us in the long term. A new need has now emerged: the desire for food that still offers convenience but without any of the concerns that are becoming associated with it.

McCain recognized the early stages of societal shift and, in one of the biggest decisions in its history, made a commitment to change the way its Canadian products are made. This was dubbed the McCain It’s all good™ initiative, and the goal was very simple: the company would make its food the same way moms would if they were making it from scratch. Unrecognizable and unpronounceable ingredients were out; real ingredients were in, without compromising the taste. The new products had to be equal or better than the current ones and the competition. This was a huge undertaking: McCain had to fundamentally change the way their products were made. New recipes for over 70 products were developed, requiring intensive and groundbreaking product development without taking shortcuts. The first wave of McCain products to be launched under the McCain It’s all good™ banner included McCain frozen pizza, McCain Pizza Pockets snacks, and frozen potato products.

Our challenge was to make consumers and stakeholders aware of these changes and to establish the importance of food being made exclusively with good ingredients. In an environment where many food companies started to talk about “sodium reduction” or “trans-fat-free” foods, we had to ensure that consumers believed that McCain was removing ALL unrecognizable ingredients, not just one or two. (Please see Exhibit 1: Example of an ingredient comparison.)

b) Resulting Business Objectives
• Drive net annual dollar sales growth of the McCain Superfries segment by 3.5%.
• Drive net annual dollar sales growth of the McCain Rising Crust and Thin Crust Pizzas segment by 3.3%.
• Secure retail listings, especially in the pizza category.
• Increase household penetration for McCain Superfries by +1.5 points and for McCain Rising Crust and Thin Crust Pizzas by +1.0 point each.
• Encourage consumers to question what is in their food and to make purchasing decisions based on this.
• Convince consumers, retail customers, industry stakeholders, and employees that McCain is on a journey to make its food with the same ingredients you would use if you were to make it from scratch.
• Differentiate McCain and its products from other food companies by defining what the McCain It’s all good™ positioning means and creating awareness of this fresh brand promise.

c) Annual Media Budget
Over $5 million

d) Geographic Area
National (Canada)

a) Analysis and Insight
We spent a lot of time focusing on the way moms think about the foods they serve their families, and about how these foods are made. Most moms rely, at least a few nights a week, on convenience food. With many moms working outside the home, the number of nights when dinner is made entirely from scratch are pretty few. Many moms don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to scrutinize ingredient lists. But if they were to do this, as McCain did, they’d find a lot of things that sound as if they belong in a chemistry class rather than on a dinner plate.

For years, none of these ingredients had been challenged [Crossover Note 10] but although technically safe in terms of being approved by Health Canada, there’s something about the ring of “sodium stearoyl lactylate” and “diglycerides” that just doesn’t sound right. When we realized that no average consumer had these additives available to them for the meals they’d prepare on their own, the key product insight hit us: shouldn’t the only ingredient in food be, well, food? [Crossover Note 11]

Where this insight was really rooted in the product story, we needed to connect the product to the daily experience of our target group. We did considerable exploratory research with moms simply to understand their thoughts and experiences in relation to one of their most demanding roles: feeding and nurturing the family. Mom after mom talked about the challenges and the rewards of having to feed the family. Whether we were speaking to new moms just getting used to it or veterans who have been feeding their families for 20 years, the one constant was the daily need to ensure that somehow or other, everyone was fed and taken care of. Whether their strategy to deal with this was organization, delegation, or simply crossing their fingers, every one of them spoke to us about the question they faced every single day: “What’s for dinner?” Arguably, this is probably the question moms hear more than any other question, which makes it a pretty important one.
As we thought about this, an obvious irony struck us: if this question is being asked so much, why is no one asking, “What’s in dinner?” What exactly are the ingredients that go into the family’s food? This question framed our insight in a meaningful way that moms could relate to based on their daily experiences and became the foundation of our entire campaign.

b) Communication Strategy
Knowing that moms feel enough guilt around the topic of feeding the family, we had to avoid anything that would make them feel even more stressed. Anything that felt judgmental or like a lecture was clearly wrong. Instead, we took a more inquisitive approach.

Perhaps because our strategy rested on a series of fundamental questions, our communication strategy followed a similar structure. Each component of the campaign began with a simple but provocative question about the food we feed our families. A masterbrand spot launched the campaign and was supported by individual TV and print executions for lead products across the portfolio. McCain’s corporate website was completely revamped to tell the corporate and product story in greater depth. In an environment where many companies were making a lot of noise about removing a single offender, such as sodium or trans fat, we had to ensure that consumers understood that McCain was removing ALL unrecognizable ingredients, not just one or two.

a) Media Used
The McCain It’s all good™ campaign launched in the middle of January 2010. It was supported with television, print, PR, new packaging, and a new website, as well as internal communication.

b) Creative Discussion
Internal Communication:
Before we could communicate the idea to our external audience, we had to ensure that all 4,000 McCain employees were engaged in the journey the company was about to embark on. [Crossover Note 32] We developed a brand book that defined the new vision, describing what McCain It’s all good™ is all about and the values McCain aspires to stand for. This, accompanied by an employee engagement video, was brought to life with the help of a road show, where the McCain executive leadership team travelled across the country and engaged all employees from coast to coast. (See Exhibit 2 and Exhibit 3: McCain Brand Book.)

The launch spot asking ”What’s in dinner?” kicked off the campaign, telling the McCain It’s all good™ story, while other spots had product-specific messages. In our pizza TV spot we asked, “Are all frozen pizzas made the same?” to encourage consumers to compare ingredients. In our Superfries spot we asked, “What’s the difference between McCain Superfries and a potato?” to remind consumers that McCain french fries are made from the goodness of potatoes. (Please see Exhibits 4, 5 and 6.)

This told the McCain It’s all good™ story on a more detailed level. It also allowed us to feature additional products that didn’t receive dedicated TV support, like Pizza Pockets, asking “Can a nutritionist and a pizza pocket get along?” (See Exhibit 7 and Exhibit 8: Print Campaign.)

The Website: was completely redesigned to match the new look and feel established for the brand. We extended the questions we asked in TV and print, but the website’s main purpose was to tell the in-depth story of McCain’s journey, its philosophy, and to educate consumers about the products. (See Exhibit 9:

PR Support:
This came in five phases:
1. In advance of the launch, McCain met with key stakeholders, such as the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, and Dietitians of Canada to provide a first-hand look at the campaign and to foster endorsements.
2. Simultaneously, long-lead publications met with McCain to get a taste of the new products and to hear about the changes. Round tables were set up with key Canadian lifestyle publications.
3. The groundwork for the overall campaign was laid by telling the McCain It’s all good™ story in high-profile business publications, securing feature stories.
4. At launch, the Pantry Summit media event in Toronto, led by five influential Canadian family food experts, created buzz by using news media to drive awareness and demand for the products.
5. Finally, the story was taken on the road across English and French Canada to lifestyle TV and radio programs, food and lifestyle print writers, and women’s and parenting publications.

A new design was developed for the over 70 product SKUs launched under the initiative:
• Every package has fresh ingredients depicted with the McCain logo.
• On the back the ingredients are not just listed. Instead, a recipe card supports the idea of using wholesome ingredients like mom would if she was making it from scratch. (See Exhibit 10 and Exhibit 11: Packaging.)

c) Media Discussion
After the PR-supported kickoff in mid-January 2010, national TV and print advertising began at end of January, along with McCain’s new website. We used TV as our main medium to drive awareness, along with a full-page magazine campaign in English and French Canada.

The 60-second launch spot and the 30-second product spots aired on conventional and specialty channels. Cutting down the product spots to 15 seconds allowed us to use the existing TV weight most efficiently and allowed for minimum sustaining weight levels.

The print campaign used the top Canadian female-focused publications, alloweing us to reach a wide range of McCain’s top consumers multiple times. (See Exhibit 12: Media Plan.)

a) Sales/Share Results
(See Exhibit 13 and Exhibit 14):

• Net dollar sales for McCain Superfries increased by +10.5% (52 weeks ending January 29, 2011 VYA). With the benchmark set at +3.5% and the frozen french fries category declining at
-0.5% over the same period this is a major success. (Source: Nielsen MarketTrack)

• For McCain Rising Crust and Thin Crust Pizzas the objective was to increase net dollar sales by +3.3%. In fact, the growth was +8% (52 weeks ending January 29, 2011 VYA). At the same time, the total frozen pizza retail category grew at +3%. (Source: Nielsen MarketTrack)

• Household penetration for McCain Superfries has increased by +3.6 points, while the category remained flat. (The objective was 3.5 points.)

• Penetration for McCain Rising Crust and Thin Crust Pizzas grew by +2.3 and +2.6 points, respectively, surpassing the target of 1.0 points. (Source: Nielsen Homescan Market Summary, 12/27/09 – 12/25/10 VYA)

• McCain was able to secure listings for new SKUs like Thin Crust Pepperoni and Deluxe Pizzas, because McCain It’s all good™ clearly differentiates McCain products. In addition, it was the reason McCain could maintain critical listings for its pizza offerings at Metro, Canada’s third largest grocery retailer. (Source: McCain sales team)

• In a survey conducted in June 2010, 84% of consumers said they would be more likely to purchase McCain in light of McCain It’s all good™. (Source: Vision Critical)

• Only four months after launch, aided recall for “Making products with ingredients you would use if you made it from scratch” was at 59%. (Source: Vision Critical, June 2010)

• By August 2010, we achieved over 31 million PR impressions, at an average cost per contact of $0.007 (the industry benchmark is $0.05).

• Unaided recall and awareness of the McCain It’s all good™ initiative increased by +175% between 2010 and 2011. McCain received the most mentions across the general frozen food category. (Source: Vision Critical, April 2011)

This long-term campaign is off to a very powerful start and shows how a large, multinational company can change the way it thinks about itself, the products it makes, and the role it plays in the lives of consumers.

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion
(Please see Exhibit 15: Contribution of McCain It’s all good™ to McCain Superfries growth – displayed in pounds.)

McCain It’s all good™ contributed 1.8 million pounds, which is equivalent to 6.9%, to the growth of McCain Superfries. The growth of Superfries would have been limited to 5.4% (vs. 12.2%) without the new brand promise. This analysis provides an overview of the multiple factors that contributed to the growth of McCain Superfries as well as what caused decline. Areas of growth were product innovations (Low Salt Superfries, large-size Superfries); Sweet Potato Superfries, driven by the natural growth of the subcategory; and incremental activities, reflecting promotions with feature pricing. Areas of decline were driven by price increases, cannibalization of new products with existing SKUs, and distribution losses, which reflect delistings of older SKUs in order to get shelf space for new products. The remaining growth, more than 50%, was driven by the persuasiveness of the campaign.

(Note, a similar analysis for pizza is not possible, as the entire category is extremely feature driven.)

In Marketing magazine’s Marketing/Leger 2010 Corporate Reputation Survey, McCain jumped from 23rd place to 13th place in one year – the biggest jump the survey had ever seen. With no other activities in market, this can only be attributed to the campaign. (Source: Marketing/Leger Corporate Reputation Survey, March 2010)

Key stakeholders recognized McCain as taking a leadership position: “[What McCain has done] is a leadership move for the frozen food sector and among food manufacturers more broadly. As consumers take notice of what McCain is doing, other companies are likely to follow.” Marsha Sharp, Dietitians of Canada.

“McCain has set a very high bar and taken a significant leadership role. I believe from what I saw that this will be a catalyst that will spur innovation and healthfulness in the frozen food category. Others will have to play catch-up to McCain and Canadians will be the biggest winners!” Stephen Samis, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels: The TV spending level decreased in the year of the McCain It’s all good™ launch vs. previous years by an average of 20%.
Please see Exhibit 16: McCain TV Spending F2004 – F2011

Pricing: The prices for McCain Premium french fries increased between June and September 2010. In the pizza category, price discounting is the norm; about 75% of all category sales occur on feature price, which was taken into consideration when setting the business objectives.

Distribution Changes: No new distribution occurred during the campaign period. Some product SKUs were taken off the shelf to be replaced by innovations.

Unusual Promotional Activity: In the extremely competitive pizza category it is essential to secure features and have these communicated via store ads (grocery retail flyers). Because of the McCain It’s all good™ positioning, McCain was able to secure the same level of features as in previous years.

Other Potential Causes: None.