Maple Leaf keeps fighting food insecurity and relating to parents

Images of empty fridges and DIY haircuts help the company adapt two of its brand pillars to the pandemic.
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Maple Leaf Foods has launched two pieces of creative – one addressing society as a whole and the other reaching out specifically to parents – using established brand pillars to address two very different realities during the pandemic.

“Apart Together” is a call to action leading to a microsite of the same name, linking empty streetscapes and stadiums to empty fridges. The ad is telling Canadians about a partnership with Food Banks Canada and Community Food Centres Canada, which includes a $1 million donation from the company and a goal of raising an additional $1 million through customer donations.

D’Arcy Finley, VP of marketing for Maple Leaf Foods, tells strategy that the brand has been focused on food security for several years as part of its broader efforts to be “the most sustainable protein company in the world.” For example, its Centre for Action on Food Security aims to reduce food insecurity in Canada by 50% by 2030.

Finley says it wanted this message out now because of how the crisis has exacerbated the issue. When it comes to its CSR, Finley says carbon neutrality and food security are Maple Leaf’s main pillars, and in the short-term, there will be more of a focus on the latter.

“We have a big role to play with emergency food relief efforts happening across the country,” Finley says. “The tone and imagery and the way we’ve executed is consistent with how the brand goes to market: nothing too flashy, airbrushed or polished.”

Matt Fraracci, creative director at Maple Leaf’s AOR Sid Lee, says the “empty fridge” concept was a direct response to the early days of quarantine – when the agency and brand were hearing a lot about streets and schools that were empty – and is also used to remind Canadians how to do their part during the pandemic. “The [beginning of the] ad is very much about how some things being empty is a good thing, and it’s for the greater good,” Fraracci says.

“Haircuts,” meanwhile, is a light-hearted response to parents who have currently resorted to cutting their kids’ hair themselves and uses social media images of their impromptu stylings.

Fraracci says parenting is often depicted in a sanitized, unrealistic way, hence the choice of subject matter. Monica Tam, Maple Leaf Food’s director of brand marketing, says that’s in line with how the brand has celebrated parents in recent years.

“It’s been a challenging time for families,” she says. “This was a positive, relatable moment. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s about doing your best.”

“Apart Together” is appearing on TV, online and on social media, while “Haircuts” is a digital-only campaign.