French’s continues to drive home Canadiana

The condiment brand adds Raps goodwill to its "made in Canada" values with a traveling Canada Day truck.



French’s was driving home its Canadian connections – literally – in a goodwill truck tour this week, thanking Canadians and serving up freebies as it celebrated Canada Day a few days early.

French’s doled out what it called “Canada Day essentials” from the truck, which left Toronto on Wednesday morning, stopping in Kitchener before ending its journey in Leamington, the “tomato capital of Canada” and a main source of tomatoes for its ketchup. These essentials included ketchup, branded sunglasses, totes and towels as well as sample food topped with ketchup, all with a truck marked with “Thank you Canada” messaging.

0P2A5735Competitor Kraft Heinz’s decision to sell its plant and move its ketchup operations out of Leamington and to the U.S. in 2015 gave French’s a boost.  While the new plant owner still makes some products for Kraft Heinz, French’s took the opportunity to begin touting the fact that it uses only Canadian-sourced tomatoes, causing some consumers to trade loyalties – which the brand has continued to capitalize on.

“We are really excited to keep the momentum behind the Canadian heritage,” says Cheryl Radisa, VP of marketing at McCormick Canada, who says the brand is reaffirming its commitment to Canada and its communities: “We have been sourcing 100% Canadian tomatoes since 2015 and from then, we have been consistent in our messaging.”

Radisa tells strategy that the location choices (which included Maple Leaf Square) were driven in part by fans, as well as its partnership with MLSE (French’s is the official ketchup of both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors). “We have a strong affiliation with them and it was nice to enjoy space with a partner and keep the momentum going with the championship win.”

0P2A5279The company also personally greeted three “superfans” in the three cities, meeting them at their homes and thanking them personally with gift packages. These brand ambassadors were chosen for their demonstrated affection for the brand on social media.

There has been a lot of disruption in the condiment space lately, with rival Kraft Heinz unveiling ketchup inspired by musician Ed Sheeran (“Edchup”) and giving away a limited number of special edition bottles in Orillia, Ontario earlier this month. It also added a mayonnaise-ketchup mashup to its lineup in Canada, after a number of other similar condiment combinations were released in the U.S.

“We are more focused on ketchup itself,” according to Radisa. French’s has launched a couple of new varieties, one with low sugar, and another with low salt, and Radisa says that the brand is more positioned on the health benefits side and recognizing that consumers want a measure of control over their diet.

“That’s a better approach from an innovation perspective. It allows us to focus on our core item, which is the ketchup,” she adds. “We bundle a lot of our French’s and Clubhouse products brand together to drive a total barbecue grilling solution. A lot of those efforts are now in store.”