OVERVIEW: This is the story of SunChips in the U.S., and its transformation from a healthy snack into a leading green brand. It is also the story of a small Canadian agency leading a major initiative for a large U.S. client.
SITUATION ANALYSIS: SunChips had long enjoyed a reputation as a healthier snack, and had also enjoyed strong organic growth. However, just as SunChips was hitting its peak in 2007, the healthy snacking category exploded with competition from whole grain crackers, cereal bars and even a copycat brand. Growth began to stall. At the same time, people were increasingly recognizing a relationship between their health and the planet's. This inspired SunChips to reposition itself as "the pre-eminent green snack." It was a move backed by real substance because in 2008 SunChips would be ready to announce the addition of a 50-acre solar field to its factory in Modesto, California, so that SunChips could be made using solar energy. And over and above this, in 2009, SunChips would be ready to launch a groundbreaking innovation - the packaged food industry's first compostable packaging.
STRATEGY & INSIGHT: Research showed that the target audience gave some thought to environmental factors, but was not heavily committed. Also, they often didn't understand the details of solar power, or words like biodegradable or compostable. The challenge was to communicate manufacturing innovations in a way that was accessible, fun and true to the brand's voice - without any change in product or distribution. Media spend was also flat, at US$9 million for 2008 and US$9.5 million for 2009.
EXECUTION: The 2008 launch used the sun. A national double-sided newspaper ad was blank on one side except for the words "please hold this page up to the sun." Print bleed-through from other side then completed the message: "This is a solar-powered ad to tell you about our solar-powered chip." Meanwhile, a billboard with special cut-outs used the sun's movement to reveal the message - and a time-lapse video of this was also posted on the internet. Two national TV commercials supported the launch, along with magazines and a website. For 2009, the plan was to create a conversation about the compostable bag in the blogosphere and news outlets. This started with a time-lapse video of a bag disintegrating underground. It ran on American Idol on the evening before Earth Day, only once, but it was then seeded on video sharing sites. Separately, a real compostable bag ran as an insert in People magazine, and a partnership with National Geographic led to a Green Effect Consumer Program.
RESULTS: The campaign has been a resounding success. Sales for the 2008-2009 period were 17% above the 2007 baseline. Unaided brand awareness more than doubled. Past two week penetration was up 25%, and Brand Momentum (a brand health metric) doubled. In addition, Walmart, the world's largest retailer, selected SunChips as one of its three coveted "Value Producing Items" during Earth Month 2008.
CAUSE & EFFECT: It was clear from examining the marketing variables that advertising was the driving force, and Market Mix Modelling by IRI confirmed that the effect of advertising on sales was more significant than any other factor.
FRITO-LAY NORTH AMERICA
Gannon Jones, VP Marketing
Dave Skena / Thomas Oh, Marketing Directors
Carrie Walsh, Brand Manager
Jill Nykoliation, President
Terry Drummond / Alan Madill / Barry Quinn, Creative Directors
Andy Linardatos, Copywriter (ACD)
Hylton Mann, Art Director (ACD)
Andrew Chisholm, Copywriter
Erin Kawalecki, Copywriter
Laurent Abesdris, Copywriter
Jeff Cheung, Art Director
Dani Maisels, Art Director
Derek Blais, Art Director
Catherine Marcolin, Tracy Little, Shelly-Ann Scott, Group Account Director
Jessica Lax / Francine Li, Account Directors
Jason Oke, Director of Strategic Planning
Caroline Craig, Consumer Experience Strategist
Natalie Taylor / Leanne Parnass / Aneesha Ramanan, Account Executives
Janice Bisson, Producer
Hanna Bratt, Producer
Bette Minott, Producer
Dena Thomson, Producer
Ryan Teixeira, Designer
Max Hosseinian, Designer