Hunt’s uses chef-approved recipes to highlight its premium tomatoes

ConAgra worked with Alida Solomon to show what "flavour passed on" means to her.

Conagra-owned Hunt’s Heirloom Tomatoes is tapping on the shoulder of a renowned Toronto-based chef in its latest campaign to generate more awareness of the brand and its message of using premium ingredients to elevate food.

Hunt’s recently partnered with Chef Alida Solomon, also owner of Toronto-based Tutti Matti, to highlight the story of what “flavour passed on” – a message common in the brand positioning for the more premium Hunt’s product line – means to her. Hunt’s and Solomon collaborated to develop three recipes: sugo bugiardo, chicken cacciatore and veal chop marinara, which were featured on Conagra’s “Ready Set Eat” online recipe platform last week. The recipes will also be featured in online videos debuting later this month, and featured in Solomon’s menu for Toronto culinary festival Winterlicious.

“It’s to raise awareness of the new premium tomatoes and the fact that a lot of chefs are recommending premium can tomatoes outside of the fresh growing season,” Zora Crowder, marketing director and grocery team leader for Conagra Brands, says of the campaign.

Driving newsletter signup and engagement have always been goals of Conagra’s “Ready Set Eat” platform, which was created last April. But there are also parallels with goals the company has for the Hunt’s Heirloom line: appealing to customers seeking premium, high-quality ingredients. The strategies and goals have evolved, Crowder notes, referencing the three new recipes Hunt’s and Solomon collaborated on.

“She’s created a number of recipes that are bursting with flavour – really reinforcing the message of using premium ingredients to elevate your food,” Crowder says.

The context of winter was a factor when it came to this campaign. “The timing is perfect with consumers because, at this time of year, they’re cooking a lot of the slow cook comfort foods that contain tomato products,” Crowder says. “We want them to know that, to elevate their flavours, to elevate their food, they can use this premium can tomato. So I think it’s a perfect time of year…outside of the summer, this is how you capture that fresh tomato taste.”

Crowder says Conagra took a branded content approach because it allowed Solomon’s belief in the quality of the product to come through.

“I think it just lends so much more credibility from a brand perspective,” Crowder says. “I would never go out there and just tell consumers, ‘Hey, we’ve got the best tomatoes – try us.’ Because it’s not very believable coming from the brand itself, but when it’s coming from a highly-respected, third party expert, obviously people will listen to that.”

The target audience for this campaign is similar to past Conagra and Hunt’s Heirloom campaigns since the more upscale line launched two years ago; namely, cooking-friendly audiences, aspiring home chefs, as well as “scratch cooks,” as Crowder describes.

Per Se was the creative agency responsible for creating all assets for the partnership. M&K handled the media buy for the campaign and Harbinger PR dealt with the management of the partnership.