Tech in Action: ACE Bakery takes an anti-tech approach

The "Bread Blox" helps consumers ignore their phones, reinforcing a brand positioning based on real-world connections.

Weston Foods brand ACE Bakery has been marketing itself around the value of disconnecting. But, knowing that is easier said than done, it has developed a product to help people with the task of simply putting their phones away.

The “Bread Blox” is designed to look like a new, high-tech home product, but in reality is a traditional-looking bread box filled with noise-cancelling, vibration-absorbing and signal-blocking padding. The box was designed with an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, allowing consumers to simply close the lid and not need to know if they are missing anything.

The “Bread Blox” is part of a brand positioning established this year that has been attempting to re-establish “breaking bread” as a moment for gathering and connection between friends and family. More specifically, it continues a message from a more traditional spot that encouraged people to ignore texts and calls in favour of “real conversations.”

“We often say that meals are sacred times to bond with those we care about, but as we’ve seen these moments are often disrupted by our device’s distractions,” says Rachel Leung, ACE Bakery’s senior brand manager. “It’s not even enough to flip our phones over anymore – it’s been proven that the mere presence of our phones causes us to not be present.”

A first run of the Bread Blox – selling for $39.95 – has already sold out, but interested consumers can join a wait list on a dedicated microsite.

“We didn’t want to just tell people to disconnect,” says Jess Willis, VP and ECD at Mosaic Canada, the agency that worked on the campaign. “It was about walking the walk and actually giving people the tool to do so.”

While ACE is giving consumer an in-home tool to help them do it, other brands have been tapping into consumer desire to have more real-world connections in an increasingly digital world, though some have also taken the approach of providing customers with a tool to do so. In 2015, restaurant chain Turtle Jack’s Muskoka Grill created “The Phone Block,” a box at select locations where users could put their phones – and receive a 20% discount if they kept it there until the end of their meal.