McCormick thanks overlooked frontline workers: those at food banks

The company builds on French's and Club House's ties with Food Banks Canada, as it continues a content-led digital pivot.
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While many brands are now highlighting the need to help food banks during the pandemic, McCormick is building on a longstanding relationship and featuring them as part of a creative pivot.

The company’s French’s and Club House brands prepared a “Thank You Front Line Workers” video, posted on its social channels, which showcases the important work being done by food bank workers, as well as Food Banks Canada’s efforts to support them. North Strategic led the campaign.

Deborah Sharpe, marketing director for Canada at McCormick, tells strategy it chose to highlight French’s and Club House based on a partnership with Food Banks Canada that started in 2015. Over the last five years, she says, those brands have donated $3.3 million dollars to fuel the non-profit’s mission. Sharpe says the company has been in regular contact with Food Banks Canada during the pandemic, which made the message of the campaign and its goal – “we really wanted to bring both financial support and awareness to the food bank,” Sharpe says – apparent very quickly.

Originally, McCormick was planning a campaign built around grilling and gathering together, tied to Easter, but with shelter-in-place orders beginning to come into effect in March, this appeared tone-deaf, according to Sharpe. She says it pivoted its efforts online to focus on addressing consumer questions about recipes, cooking and to emphasize the ease-of-use of grilling, instead of its social aspect.

During this time of social distancing, Sharpe says Canadians are relying more on kitchen staples such as spices and condiments as they cook more at home, but are also turning to kitchens as an area of comfort. McCormick has launched a new “stay at home” page on its HelloFlavour.ca recipe website to help support consumers, utilizing its kitchens and chefs to showcase things like shelf-stable recipes, tips for how to make one’s own bread and snack mixes, and household activities like making kinetic, scented slime.

This is building on a social and content-led approach McCormick has been developing to reach millennial families – in 2019, for example, it worked with BuzzFeed to launch the co-branded Tasty spice blends, which came with content on the media company’s cooking vertical and McCormick’s recipe microsite, HelloFlavour.ca.

For the new campaign, Sharpe says McCormick opted not to go with TV partly due to cost, but also because social is “where we found some of the greatest traction and lift in engagement” with the content it has been posting since its pandemic pivot. Social shares in particular have seen a real upswing, Sharpe says, with recipe pins generating way more click-throughs than pre-pandemic.

Other social content McCormick has been running on the HelloFlavour Instagram account includes recipes from both consumers and its internal content team, as well and Q&As, looking at what indirect questions consumers might have about food and cooking that it can answer.