Levi’s inhabits planet of the cats

In an effort to reinvigorate the Levi's brand, Levi Strauss & Co. (Canada) has launched its first television commercial in more than 18 months. The national 30-second spot, supported by an outdoor billboard campaign, was directed by Bruce McDonald, the man...

In an effort to reinvigorate the Levi’s brand, Levi Strauss & Co. (Canada) has launched its first television commercial in more than 18 months. The national 30-second spot, supported by an outdoor billboard campaign, was directed by Bruce McDonald, the man behind Canadian indie hits such as Highway 61, Hardcore Logo and episodes of the TV series Twitch City.

The ads, which launch Levi’s spring line, are aimed at consumers 15-24 who are fans of shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files, says Vincent Lam, consumer marketing manager at Richmond Hill, Ont.-based Levi Strauss.

‘We wanted to do something very, very different,’ he says. ‘And different from other fashion advertising that mainly shows pretty people in pretty clothing,’ he says.

The spot features a handsome young man in a post-apocalyptic world who is imprisoned in a cage with two sultry women. Guarding them are mutant cats decked out in Levi’s casual wear. As the commercial ends, the man screams at the cats, Charlton Heston-style, ‘You stole our style, you mutant felines!’

While Levi’s is still the leader in the denim and casual pants category, it has come under increasing pressure from the competition, says Genevieve Dennis, account director at Harrod &Mirlin/FCB, Levi’s agency of record and creator of the spot.

‘Testing has shown that some young people have begun to think of Levi’s as their jeans of their parents,’ she says. ‘We wanted to do something bold that would reconnect with those young consumers.’

The spot will run nationally in heavy weights from March 6 to the middle of April, including a special 60-second version that will run during the pre-Academy Awards show. Forecasts show that 85% of Canadian consumers 15-49 will see the commercial about 12 times during its run.

It was important for Levi’s to come out strong with the campaign and reclaim its position as the number one jean and casual pants brand, says Dennis.

Credits:

Client: Levi Strauss and Co. (Canada)

Agency: Harrod & Mirlin/FCB

Account Director: Genevieve Dennis

Creative Director: Brian Harrod

Copywriter: Joseph Nanni

Art Director: Larry Ioannou

Director: Bruce McDonald

Media: Television, out-of-home

Start date: March 6

End Date: Mid-April

Meat and plant-based sales are both strong at Maple Leaf

Both priority areas performed well in the company's full-year results, helped by a boost in marketing for new products.
Maples Leaf All Natural 4

Maple Leaf Foods reported higher Q4 and full-year 2020 sales, driven by its sustainable meats and plant-based proteins. 

The CPG co. reported quarterly sales of $1.13 billion, up from $1.02 billion for Q4 2019, as well as net earnings of $25.4 million, compared to $17.5 million for the same period the year prior (an increase of 45.2%).

For full fiscal 2020, the company reported a total increase of 9.2% in sales, driven by what it says is “strong growth in both the meat and plant protein groups.”

“We have repositioned our portfolio towards two high-growth categories now representing 20% of our annual sales generating a compounded growth rate in excess of 25% over the last three years,” says Michael McCain, the company’s president and CEO.

Meat protein group sales  comprised of prepared meats, ready-to-cook and ready-to-serve meals, snack kits, value-added fresh pork and poultry products that are sold to retail, foodservice and industrial channels, and agricultural operations  grew 11.3% for the quarter. 

Meanwhile, sales of plant protein products  refrigerated plant protein brands such as Lightlife and Field Roast, premium grain-based protein, and vegan cheese products sold to retail, foodservice and industrial channels  was up 5.5% over the same period. 

Sales growth for its meat portfolio was driven by “a favourable mix-shift towards sustainable meats and branded products,” but also growth in exports to Asian markets, and pricing actions implemented to mitigate inflation and other structural cost increases, according to the company. Strong demand in the retail channel was offset by lower volume in foodservice as a result of COVID-19.

For its plant-based offerings, sales for 2020 were $210.8 million compared to $176.4 million last year, representing a growth of 19.5%, or 18.1% after excluding the impacts of foreign exchange. The segment was driven by expanded distribution of new products, continued volume increases in its existing portfolio, and pricing actions implemented to mitigate inflation and other structural cost increases.

SG&A expenses totalled $144 million for the plant group alone in 2020, with investments focused on advertising, promotion and marketing to build awareness, as well as supporting brand renovation and new product innovation. SG&A for meat proteins were $346.6 million for the full year, and the company says it expects SG&A levels and marketing investment in 2021 to be largely in line with where they were in 2020.

The company, which in 2019 announced it had gone carbon neutral, says it’s amplifying this commitment while “focusing on eliminating waste in any resources it consumes, including food, energy, water, packaging, and time.”