CASSIES Gold: Smarties Blue Cat has purrfect timing

JWT’s “Blue is Back” reignites the Nestlé Canada brand, reversing a decline in sales.

GOLD: Events, Seasonal and Short-Term

Situation Analysis: Many of us grew up with Smarties and have vivid memories of the brand from childhood. But this has come at a cost. Smarties has become the “Puff the Magic Dragon” of confectionery – the last thing that teens want to be seen with. This has had serious consequences for the brand, which declined 4% in 2008 and 3% in 2009.

Then two opportunities presented themselves. In 2009, Smarties had discontinued Blue Smarties as part of a move to “No Artificial Colours.” This was unpopular, but by 2010 Nestlé was able to get blue Smarties back into the mix. Meanwhile, Smarties had teamed up with Apple for a MacBook Pro giveaway as a way to get attention from teens. Could these two initiatives be combined?

Strategy & Insight: Teens are particular about what they like and what they associate themselves with. Enter a curious blue cat — irreverent, offish, even moody, living life on his own terms. He delivers the news about blue Smarties and the promotion in a way that would get talked about and shared.

Execution: The blue cat had serious attitude appeal, with a foreign accent that couldn’t quite be placed and rhyming speech (“Blue is back. Win a Mac”). This would go on to be mimicked by many of his fans. The campaign ran from mid-June through August 2010 and included 15-second TV spots, a partnership with the MuchMusic Video Awards, online banner advertising and a Facebook brand page.

Results: After two years of brand declines, “Blue is Back” turned the brand around. The 50-gram SKU (which accounts for 46% of brand sales) moved from a 4% decline at the end of 2009 to 4% growth by the end of 2010, a positive delta of 9%. Total Smarties also turned around, from -3% to +3%, and the Smarties Blue Cat now has a 600,000+ fan base on Facebook, making it the number two page in Canada, and at the time of the CASSIES submission, the total brand was growing at 7%.

Cause & Effect: Continuous tracking confirmed ad breakthrough. Branded recall grew to 41% – more than twice the norm. “Made you want to buy” was at 36% vs. a 20% norm and “Increased your interest in the brand” grew to 38% vs. a 17% norm. There were no significant changes in pricing or distribution and the Mac promotion, though it will have had some positive effect, was not the primary thrust of the campaign.


Nestlé Canada
president, Nestle Confectionery: Terri Tinella; past president, Nestle Confectionery: Sandra Martinez; leader, confectionery marketing: Gary Batey; marketing managers: Kate Beresford, Sarah Sauder, Rachelle Kennedy, Ashley Edelstein; consumer & shopper insight manager, confectionery: Acky Dinnepati; consumer communications: Ted Rideout; CCSD leader confectionery: Ken Mahon; AVA leader confectionery: Joel Martins; AMM AVA confections: Scott Houston; CCSD confectionery: Shawn Sokell; marketing manager: Maria DiLeo

ECD: Martin Shewchuk; VP group account director: Carolyn Bingham; copywriter: Gord Yungblut; AD: Jason Souce; broadcast producer: Gavin Nevsky; account supervisor: Andrew Knight; account executives: Gillian Brown, Kathleen Dusk

VP, group account director, ZenithOptimedia: Kim Carnahan; account director, ZenithOptimedia: Aaron Wills

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