CASSIES Silver: Becel gets baking

The margarine brand had the recipe to counter its declining use.

This story appears in the February/March 2016 issue of strategy.

Silver: Events, Seasonal and Short-Term

Situation Analysis:

For more than 45 years, Becel had been Canada’s favourite spreads brand, but in a declining sector. The rise in belief that butter was healthier due to its naturalness was causing consumers to shift from margarine to butter. What 15 years ago had been a 50/50 category split had become 60/40 in favour of butter. As the leading spreads brand, Becel needed to offset the decline of margarine as a spread (caused by the rise of gluten-free diets) by driving consumption in other usages, particularly baking, by leveraging a new proprietary baking recipe, the “Anything Goes Cookie Dough.”

Insight & Strategy:

Research highlighted that while 70% of Canadian households bake from scratch, only 30% bake with margarine. Additionally, the average quantity of butter/oil/margarine used in baking was several times larger (one cup vs. one tsp) than the amount used for spreading.  The most-baked item in Canada is soft and chewy cookies so consumers already had a number of recipes in their cookies recipe arsenal. Another copycat cookie recipe would fail, but since 97% of consumers follow recipes to some extent, one recipe, using Becel as the secret ingredient, that provided endless cookie possibilities, could be the only cookie recipe Canadians would ever need.


Leveraging the fact that Canadians bake the most on weekends and for key occasions such as Easter, Mother’s Day, etc., the Anything Goes Cookie Dough was supported across Canada from April 4 to June 27, 2015 with a spend of $2 to $3 million. Using simple visuals and food television program techniques, four plates of different soft and chewy cookies, were made with the same base recipe while text-on-screen reiterated the ingredients and the simplicity of the recipe. A media strategy brought awareness via TV, print, and digital while media partnerships (e.g. CBC and Canadian Living) drove engagement.


In the 12 weeks the Becel baking program was in market, Becel gained 92 BPS in dollar share with two out of three periods exhibiting Becel’s highest share in its history. The program helped stem multi-year sales and improved baseline (non-promoted) sales decline to almost flat, compared with -3% to -8% over the previous two years. Becel Buttery, the program’s lead variant, experienced the strongest baseline growth since its launch in 2008 at 8%. The Anything Goes Cookie Dough concept was top 15% of all recipes tested in Canada, 87% of consumers who heard about the recipe said they would try it.

The Becel baking program has been deemed a global repeatable model and will be replicated in other Unilever spreads markets.

Cause & Effect:

There were no increases in usual spend, promotional support levels and brand distribution, while pricing remained unchanged.


Client: Unilever

Senior brand building manager: Valerie Rosseau

Senior assistant brand building managers: Pinky Tang, Kristen Denega

Senior brand development manager: Kyle Marancos

Category trade manager: Megan Adderly

Shopper marketing managers: Izabela Kvesic, Stephanie Lombardi

Category insights manager: Avi Levine

Channel communications lead: Robin Hassan

Assistant nutrition & health manager: Nadean Peskun

Senior kitchen coordinator: June Kuruc

Finance manager: Jeremy Knoll

Media company: Blue Ant Media

Creative agency: Ariad

Account director: Carolyn O’Grady

Account manager: Kate Warnock

PR agency: Edelman

Account director, consumer marketing: Melissa Legaspi

SVP, national practice lead, consumer: Sarah Crabbe

Senior account manager, digital: Sarah Kelsey

Senior account executive: Emily Barnes

Media agency: Mindshare

Director, invention: Charlene Bickerstaffe

Senior associate media planning: Theresa McMahon

Senior planning manager: Michelle Mruck

Retail marketing agency: Barrows

Account director: Samantha Spergel

Video creative: Blue Ant Media

SVP media solutions: Ryan Fuss

ACD: Matthew Manuge

Supervising producer: Nick Appleton

Account executive: Remy Podrats

Project manager: Renee Tsang

Creative: The Hive

VP of strategy and planning: Michelle Prowse

Creative lead: Daniel Langer-Hack