Spotlight on…Newspaper Creative

This being an Olympic year, I decided to institute the Olympics of newspaper advertising. You know, take ads from papers around the world (all appearing on the same day - level playing field and all that) and let them go head-to-head...

This being an Olympic year, I decided to institute the Olympics of newspaper advertising. You know, take ads from papers around the world (all appearing on the same day – level playing field and all that) and let them go head-to-head for gold, silver and bronze.

A noble experiment. And a bit of fun, too.

1. FRANCE: The Economist

Gold. The translation of the line goes "Everything is not black and white." And the background colour – red – is The Economist magazine’s banner colour. In all fairness, this French ad probably wasn’t conceived in France. Rather, it’s part of a long-running campaign created by Abbott Mead Vickers Advertising in the U.K. Like every execution I’ve seen for The Economist, it is simple and to the point, but still clever. A nice effort for the French team with the English coach.

2. UK: Fiat

Bronze. This is one of the most offensive ads I’ve ever seen. But then, you have to consider where I saw it – in the London Sun. A newspaper with page three nudie girls and headlines like "Chomp chomp…Football star eats Queen’s terrier." This is not a newspaper read by women, or by men with two eyebrows. So kudos to the agency for coming up with the perfect ad for the medium. And hats off to a very, very, very brave client.

3. Germany: Wacker.com

Last place, but winner of the popularity contest. Hey, every Olympics has its Jamaican bobsled team, its Eddie the Eagle. This is the Eddie of our newspaper Olympics – an ad by a client who loved his name and had no idea that the paper was distributed outside the Vaterland. This ad begs the eternal question: If Wacker didn’t know how to get off a horse, would you help Wacker off?

4. US: Pocket PC

Disqualified after steroid testing. I hate ads that crap on the competition. This one’s big, brutish, unsportsmanlike and probably has gun-toting fans with the Stars and Stripes painted on their faces. I hate it.

5. CANADA: Project ‘P’

Bronze. You just can’t write a better headline than "Take your penis to the gym." However, I did find the art direction a bit lacking and the copy all over the place. Top marks for originality, but undisciplined. I expect if the penis buckles down and spends more time at the gym, we’ll see him going for gold at the next Olympics.

Also in this report:

- Flying blind: Without knowing the answers to some pretty fundamental questions about newspaper readership, media buyers are forced to make their decisions based on assumptions, not facts. And that’s not good enough, says one expert. p.B16

- NADbank building on solid base: Newspaper readership study evolving in dynamic market p.B18

- The war: views from the sidelines: The battle of the national dailies is causing other papers to redesign, rethink their news delivery p.B20

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.”