Royale brings its new pet project to shelves

The tissue brand swaps its kittens out for shelter pets as part of a shopper campaign supporting its new CSR project.

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Royale is adding a bunch of (adorable) new faces to its packaging: a bevvy of adopted cats and dogs that are part of a national shopper program aimed at raising awareness about shelter animals.

Developed with agency 6Degrees, “Home for Every Pet Project” comes its own new “relatable and heartwarming” brand logo, a pet tag with a dog and cat. But for the main photographic image on pack, instead of just those cuddly white kittens Royale has been synonymous with, it is showing adopted pets, animals whose inspirational shelter stories are being told through supplementary storytelling online, which launched in April.

On the promo side, Irving is combining discounts with donations: if someone spends more than $20 on Royale products, they will not only get a $5 coupon for their next purchase, but Irving will also make a $5 donation to partner animal shelters, such as municipal Humane Societies and provincial SPCAs across the country, up to a maximum of $100,000.

Gary MacIntosh, director of marketing at Irving Consumer Products, tells strategy this is the first time the brand has swapped out its kittens, using shelter pets instead to describe the joy these animals have given their adopted families. The creative, running until December, is meant to highlight the importance of Canadian animal shelters and the role they play in finding forever homes for the 100,000 animals need of adoption annually.

“This is really the core of this initiative, and why we wanted to make sure these stories were shared as widely as possible,” MacIntosh says, adding that shopper research indicated that its consumers are “looking for joy and comfort” right now, especially in shopping environments, which have become more nerve-wracking for some consumers. “Being recognized as ‘The Kitten Brand,’ we knew there would be significant impact by changing the mascot on pack. Leveraging the ‘hero’ pets in our creative, particularly on packaging, would help to amplify the project’s impact and create more engagement to learn more about each pet hero’s story.”

The main in-store communication is on-pack, but there are also wobblers, shelf talkers and flyer ads communicating the CSR initiative, on top of some account-specific executions.

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Like brands in many categories, Irving has seen a significant increase in ecommerce sales for Royale. MacIntosh says it is leveraging that is to amplify the program, even for shoppers who purchase in-store.

“Our research shows that many shoppers are planning their trips online before going into the store, so we have the opportunity to connect with shoppers in both avenues,” he says. The reverse is true as well, as the communications drive to online storytelling content, and recipes need to be uploaded online to get the coupon and corresponding donation.

This initiative has been in the works for several years, stemming from Royale’s status as “The Kitten Brand.” The program was timed to coincide with National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day in April, but the brand held back the full launch – which included the packaging, in-store and donation elements – to allow some breathing space for consumers amidst the pandemic and ensure there was sufficient inventory.

To further support “Home For Every Pet,” Royale is using national media relations, TV and digital media advertisements. The brand has also enlisted tennis star and animal lover Bianca Andreescu as the face of the  program, who is amplifying it through social.

MacIntosh says Royale remains second in market share behind Kruger’s portfolio of products, but add that it is the top household paper brand in Canada when it comes to brand-related measures.

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