The Verdict: The search for Canada’s Next Top Dog

Capital C's Maple Leaf promo engages kids and parents and increases basket size.

Summer has waned, but that doesn’t mean good shopper marketing campaigns should be forgotten.

Maple Leaf Foods wanted to develop a fully integrated national summer 2011 program for Top Dogs, and increase consumption of Maple Leaf wieners from May through September within the retail channel across Canada.

The insight was that hot dogs are a summer staple, and regardless of where people eat them, toppings are a must have. Working with Veritas on the PR, Capital C set out to find out how Canadian families are topping their hot dogs, offering to award one family “Canada’s Next Top Dog” and $25,000 for sharing their Top Dog creation. Parent and child teams could enter the contest via a Facebook page and submit their best Top Dog creation including a catchy name and step-by-step recipe instructions. The top 10 pairs of finalists were selected by a panel of judges including Chef John Placko, director of culinary excellence at Maple Leaf Foods.

“Serving food that both parents and kids love and can enjoy together is a priority for us,” says Andrew Pollock, SVP marketing, Maple Leaf Consumer Foods “The hunt for Canada’s favourite Top Dog [was] really a marriage of these two things, allowing us to celebrate some of the one-of-a-kind hot dog recipes families create in their kitchens and backyard barbecues across Canada.”

In order to create awareness of the contest and drive traffic to the Facebook page, Cap C used large bunker displays in the frozen foods section surrounded by buns and incorporating BBQ accessories into the display. Cap C created customized bunker wrap and signage as well as on-pack stickers on all Top Dog variants, along with the, “Are You Canada’s Next Top Dog?” call-to-action. National grocery stores like Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys participated in the program in various forms.

In-store Top Dog bunker display at a participating grocer.

Finalists came up with creations like “Hickory Dickory, Dog” and the “When in Rome Dog,” with close to 1,000 entries received. They were then invited to a live cook-off  to determine the grand prize winner at Toronto’s 12th annual Scotiabank BuskerFest at the end of August. Maple Leaf Foods also held a charity BBQ over the four days of Buskerfest to raise money for Epilepsy Toronto.

Press coverage was national, with CTV Toronto and Winnipeg hits for the cook-off and the finalists announcement.  The major hit was the national SunMedia story announcing the winner and the national SunMedia/Canoe.ca story featuring the recipes of articles across the Sun Network. The Facebook site garnered 12,ooo “likes.”

“The insight was based on how consumers have an increasing appetite to personalize and show off their individuality to friends and family,” says Cap C CEO Tony Chapman. “At the same time the idea fulfilled retailers’ ultimate goal to grow basket size because it created a centralized location to house Maple Leaf products in the store flanked by toppings, buns and produce.”