Uncle Ben’s brings kids to the kitchen

The brand partners with a MasterChef Junior winner to inspire kids (and parents) to get cooking.


You know those people who get to college and can’t boil an egg? Hopefully, they’ll be no more if Uncle Ben’s has its way.

In a new 12-week campaign in Canada launching Monday, the Mars brand is focused on getting kids into the kitchen to understand how to prepare healthy food.

On a new microsite, GetKidsCooking.ca, Uncle Ben’s partnered with MasterChef Junior season two winner Logan Guleff for a series of weekly video vignettes teaching kids (and parents) about kitchen basics – like how to measure liquids properly, how to handle raw chicken and how to cut up an onion the right way.


The lessons are being paired with recipes, created with the help of dietician Cara Rosenbloom (a regular on Breakfast Television, CTV News, Global News and The Morning Show). The 12 vignettes, produced by BBDO, also include retailer integration with Walmart, Sobeys, Loblaws and Metro (who are providing the food).

“We’ve got to make it really simple for consumers,” says Kyle Lyons, marketing director for food at Mars Canada. “Kids are super fussy eaters so we had to make sure the recipes were fun as well.”

The GetKidsCooking.ca initiative is part of a global platform for Mars called Ben’s Beginners, which dates back to 2012. The program is focused on Mars’ commitment to good food creating a better future and getting Uncle Ben’s to be part of the cultural conversation around healthy eating, Lyons says.

In an online survey of 800 parents commissioned by Uncle Ben’s in Canada, it found that 90% believe teaching kids to cook is an important part of helping them live healthier lives. Still, even though 77% of Canadian families eat home-cooked dinners five or more nights per week, only 12% involve kids in dinner preparation. However, 52% did say they would be prepared to allow their kids to cook a whole meal for the family.

The GetKidsCooking.ca initiative also involves a contest where parents can submit photos of the dishes they’ve cooked with their kids, for a chance to win one of three $10,000 Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs).

The campaign is being supported by a TV spot, also created by BBDO, running across all major networks nationally to drive parents to the website. Centred on the idea that kids copy what their parents do, the spot is all about getting parents to involve their kids more in the kitchen and food preparation. “We try to have mass appeal to Canadian consumers so when we say families, it’s generally all families,” Lyons adds.

Compared to the brand’s other marketing programs, this initiative is one of the biggest in terms of media investment. It’s also the first time that Ben’s Beginners has had specific TV spots in Canada or globally, Lyons notes.

Along with paid digital banners and social media support on Facebook and YouTube, the campaign will also involve a PR program (including a media tour with Guleff) and in-store displays and activations led by Match Marketing Group.

FleishmanHillard developed the microsite and is handling earned media, social media, and contest administration, with MediaCom Canada on media buying.