CASSIES Silver: Maple Leaf quells sliced meat concerns

Making heroes out of butchers helps the brand’s additive-free line win over moms.

SILVER: Best Launch

Situation Analysis At the end of the 2000s, consumers started scrutinizing food labels for assurances beyond “low fat” or “low in sodium.” Sliced meats in particular, with their perception of being more processed, were becoming a reluctant purchase, with annual declines in the 1% range. As category leader, this was bad news for Maple Leaf Foods. It had spent the previous 18 months recovering from one of the largest food recalls in Canadian history. Now, it had to deal with the sliced meat challenge.

Strategy & Insight Sliced meat in Canada generates $1 billion in annual sales – and MLF saw the opportunity to reinvent the category with Natural Selections, a range of sliced deli meats. The agency then had to take the message of “made with natural ingredients, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients, no fillers, no MSG and no nitrates added” and make it simple, believable and breakthrough. The target was concerned moms, but who would they trust? The answer was the butcher. Maple Leaf had more than 500 accredited butchers on staff, so the decision was to position the brand as “Your Butcher Shop.”

Execution The campaign launched in May 2010 with the TV spot “Stephanie Potter.” Before Natural Selections, Stephanie had to survive on boring jam sandwiches. But after, she could enjoy the ham she loved. This was followed in year two by “Dylan Carter.” Hot dogs were off-limits for Dylan until his parents discovered Natural Selections. Now he can eat what he loves, thanks to the Maple Leaf butcher.

Results Year one share beat objectives, delivering 5.8%, and by May 2012 this rose to 10.1% – again ahead of target.

Cause & Effect Spending was in line with Maple Leaf new product norms, pricing was at an 18% premium to the base Maple Leaf brand and there were no other major variables in the market.


Client: Maple Leaf Foods
CMO, MLF: Stephen Graham
SVP marketing and innovation: Andrew Pollock
Senior marketing director – innovation: Mike Sanderson
Marketing director – deli: Kevin Lake
Marketing manager – innovation: Kristin Holmes
Agency: John St.
Co-CDs: Angus Tucker, Stephen Jurisic
Copywriters: Jennifer Rossini, Kurt Mills
ADs: Stuart Campbell, Kyle Lamb
Agency producers: Dale Giffen, Michelle Orlando, Shawna McPeek
Team leader: Melissa Tobenstein