Becel relaunches its brand to have a bit more ‘heart’

The margarine brand pivots to more emotional messaging and capitalizing on interest in plant-based, health-focused products.


Upfield Foods is relaunching Becel with a new masterbrand campaign aimed at helping the margarine and plant-based spreads brand capitalize on growing consumer interest in the category.

The relaunch includes tweaks to Becel’s logo, packaging and communications strategy, though no changes have been made to the formula of its product portfolio, which includes the Original, Vegan, Avocado Oil and Olive Oil variants. The effort is being supported by “Kind Hearts are Strong Hearts,” an integrated campaign led by Edelman that spans TV, digital, social, OOH and in-store advertising.

The campaign’s TV spot communicates the double meaning of having a healthy heart, encouraging Canadians to pursue a healthy lifestyle while doing good for others, says Hesham Aboul-Hassan, head of marketing at Upfield Canada. Cut-downs created for digital channels focus on the individual stories of the people in the main spot.

Unlike last year’s influencer-driven “Fridge Goals” campaign, launched in support of Becel’s Avocado Oil product, the new masterbrand effort is geared towards “unlocking a clear emotional benefit, celebrating doing good things for others,” says Aboul-Hassan. For example, the commercial shows a father getting up early to make breakfast for his daughter, and a man who volunteers to shovel his neighbour’s driveway.

Becel is currently the leading plant-based spread in the butter and spreads category, according to Aboul-Hassan. The brand is owned by Upfield, which claims to be the largest plant-based foods company in the world, with a portfolio that includes Flora, Rama, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Upfield Foods was set up by private equity firm KKR following its US $8 billion acquisition of Unilever’s spreads business in 2018.

As a growing number of Canadians look to add plant-based products to their diet, Becel sees an opportunity to attract a new segment of consumers, while maintaining its existing customer-base across the ages of 25 to 64, according to Aboul-Hassan.

“Both our loyalists and new consumers are making healthy lifestyle choices,” he says. “We wanted to focus on addressing that, not just through the physical part of it, but also through the emotional storytelling, which is basically doing good for others.”

Becel-packagingWith the relaunch, Becel has modernized certain brand elements, while keeping those that celebrate its heritage as a plant-based food product. For example, Becel’s “takes your health to heart” tagline has been folded into the logo, and the shape of its iconic heart logo is now formed with plant petals to strengthen the plant-based association.

“Kind Hearts are Strong Hearts” represents the first time in many years that Becel has created a TV spot specifically for Canadian audiences, says Aboul-Hassan. Becel has maintained a Canadian presence on TV for the last several years, but it typically leverages global assets. It’s also the first time Becel is experimenting with programmatic media buys. The tactic has enabled the brand to better target consumers based on context, such as weather or time of day.

Overall ad spend for the masterbrand campaign is up, when compared to previous pushes that have singled out specific Becel variants. But Aboul-Hassan says the goal is really to “get the investments to work harder for us.”

“We want to continue spending on TV, because that’s the best way to drive reach,” he says. “But also, with the augmented media environment, there are so many more opportunities to generate [more relevant] communication.”

Edelman took the lead on creative, digital, social and earned. Dentsu is handling media, with support from Advantage on in-store and shopper marketing.