MaxAir fires on all cylinders

Agency/Media Company: Bates Canada Client: Warner Lambert Canada (Adams Brands) Brand: MaxAir Media Team: Lynn Mayer, vice-president, director of planning; Cheryl Fryer, media supervisor Timing: Launched January 1999 Best Plan Overall Best Plan for a Budget of More Than...

Agency/Media Company: Bates Canada

Client: Warner Lambert Canada (Adams Brands)

Brand: MaxAir

Media Team: Lynn Mayer, vice-president, director of planning; Cheryl Fryer, media supervisor

Timing: Launched January 1999

Best Plan Overall

Best Plan for a Budget of More Than $1 Million

Best Use of Television

Best Use of Interactive

The Background

The post-Christmas lull of January 1999 saw the launch of a high-menthol gum called MaxAir – a new product concept that arose from the demand for intense flavour among consumers aged 15-34.

As a basis for segmenting potential users, the psychographic profile was more important than demographics alone. Not just anyone in the target age group would enjoy MaxAir; the prototypical user was a self-aware and highly individualistic 24-year-old – someone in constant pursuit of experiences that create a different state of mind.

For this media-savvy group, the advertising had to be relevant, provocative and meaningful. And it had to be showcased in those communications vehicles best able to reach them in meaningful ways at various points in their day. Bates Canada’s ‘be where they are’ approach was designed to create a buzz about MaxAir – a goal every bit as imperative as building awareness and inciting trial.

The Plan

To connect with the target audience, the campaign needed to be innovative, multi-tiered and imbued with irreverent attitude.

In television, a medium selected for its ability to build reach, the execution had to be just as unconventional as the creative itself (with its surreal images of jumbo jets flying up noses and seals cavorting in people’s heads). Out-of-home, which was used to extend television’s reach and take MaxAir’s message to the street, had to be equally focused.

Given the way this target group has embraced all things interactive, it was also critical to extend the campaign to the Internet.

To encourage media partners to help take ownership of the launch, it was necessary to share with them our understanding of the audience and the kinds of communications that resonate with them. Reps were shown a video capturing the essence of the MaxAir target group, and were given detailed briefings on the media objectives and creative approach. They were also invited to develop customized proposals that would add dimension to the campaign through sponsorships, closed-captioning, events, sampling opportunities and interactive extensions.

Television: The television campaign for MaxAir was planned on the basis of relevant programming, rather than GRPs. Since neither BBM, Nielsen nor PMB could help pinpoint what this self-aware, thrill-seeking young adult was watching, we turned to the 1998 Goldfarb Study, with the help of CTV, and found the core of the MaxAir target audience in the ‘Assured’ cluster: self-oriented and adventurous individuals who work hard and play hard, and are eager to try new experiences and new brands.

The television programs that over-indexed for viewership by this ‘Assured’ group included South Park, Ally McBeal, WWF Wrestling, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The X-Files and The Simpsons – and it was programs such as these that were hand-picked for the MaxAir launch.

Goldfarb also helped identify key opportunities for reaching this target via specialty television channels – specifically TSN, Space: The Imagination Station, MuchMusic/MusiquePlus, Teletoon and The Comedy Network. Specialty TV made a critical contribution to this plan, particularly through sponsorship vehicles such as MuchMusic’s SnowJob, and various sampling opportunities.

Out-of-Home: In Canada’s top nine urban markets, transit shelters were used concurrently with television in order to extend reach and heighten frequency delivery. Locations in immediate proximity to university and college buildings, bars and nightclubs, ‘main drags’ and movie multiplexes were chosen, the better to weave MaxAir into the fabric of these consumers’ lives.

Subway platform posters were added to the mix in Toronto and Montreal, with the emphasis placed on key high-circulation stations. In some instances, opportunistic buys were made; MaxAir posters, for example, appeared at Toronto’s Union Station during the February opening of the new Air Canada Centre.

Interactive: Target-relevant sponsorships were also extended to the Internet, via MaxAir’s broadcast partners.

The brand’s ownership of the ‘Conspiracy Guy’ feature on Space, for example, extended to a micro site, where consumers were encouraged to submit their own conspiracy theories and enter a contest to win MaxAir gum. Sponsorship of TSN’s Off the Record, meanwhile, was carried over to the program’s home on the TSN Web site, where consumers could participate in a sports trivia contest and download a 20-second MaxAir video vignette.

This video – which featured edgier creative than appeared on television – formed an essential component of the campaign, adding an underground element to the communication. Consumers were encouraged to circulate the e-mail amongst their friends, creating the potential for exponentially increased viewership. (The video was also sent to the thousands of members of MuchAXS, MuchMusic’s viewers’ club.)

The Results

MaxAir, now in its second year, continues to build on the stellar results achieved at launch.

According to Tandemar, MaxAir’s aided awareness, trial and conversion significantly exceeded new product norms. Research conducted by Canadian Facts for Mediacom showed that awareness of the outdoor campaign exceeded projections by 10%. And, on the interactive front, MaxAir’s ‘Conspiracy Guy’ micro site attracted nearly 5,000 submissions. Most tellingly of all, total MaxAir sales for 1999 were more than double the initial forecasts.

Also in this report:

* Bates takes the cake p.BMP2

* Dentyne Ice kisses up to teens with party promo: Initiative was designed to drive both brand awareness and sales p.BMP4

* Kool-Aid placement reflected fun, refreshment p.BMP6

* Aussie creates ‘in your face’ presence: Repositions brand as funky, outrageous p.BMP8

* Guerrilla tactics get Panasonic noticed: Campaign used underground channels to reach club crowd p.BMP10

* Much VJ follows his Natural Instincts on air p.BMP12

* Chapters stands out in dot-com crowd p.BMP15

* Campbell’s cooks up targeted advertorial: Partners with CTV, magazines to create a presence beyond traditional ad buy p.BMP16

* Looking at Philips through fresh eyes: Redefinition of target market sparked departure from the traditional choice of television p.BMP18

* Jays plan hits home run p.BMP21

* Minute Maid aims for morning ownership p.BMP24

* Western Union a global Villager p.BMP28

* Scotiabank breaks out of the mold p.BMP32

* Clearnet clusters creative: Complementary boards were positioned in proximity to one another to maximize visibility, engage consumer p.BMP38

* The Judges p.BMP43

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.”