2020 PR AOY Silver: Craft digs its toes in CPG stories

The PR shop works against the grain with a focus on less PR-friendly categories that still have interesting stories to tell.

Craft PR - Team Zoom v2

This story originally appeared in the Nov/Dec 2020 issue of strategy.

Fashion, beauty and movies are natural passion points for Canadians, but “what about getting people excited about apple sauce and talking about washing machines?”

Lisa Pasquin, president of Craft PR, an agency which just celebrated its five-year anniversary this October, confesses that less-than-sexy categories have always been a passion of hers.

“When I founded [Craft] and looked at the landscape of smaller agencies I was competing with, so many focus on lifestyle brands… I didn’t see a lot of smaller ones focused on CPG, but to me that’s always the most interesting kind of work to do.”

Craft has developed creative PR for “boring” categories like household appliances, strategically positioning GE from a masterbrand to a house of brands, via the hit TV show Queer Eye, and getting an endorsement from the show’s resident Canadian, Antoni Porowski. “Nobody wants to do laundry, let alone talk about it,” Pasquin jokes.

In the early days of her career providing communications for clients such as Labatt Breweries of Canada and Unilever, Pasquin learned the importance of CPG brand storytelling. She says that great marketing starts with a deep understanding of what influences consumers – many of whom are looking for brands that have a clear sense of what they stand for.

Earth’s Own is an example of a company that understands the power of brand purpose, she says. For years the alt dairy company has used the positive environmental impact of plant-based diets as a cornerstone of its positioning. When the brand wanted to get the message out about its efforts to battle climate change to a more mass audience, it worked with Craft to create a program for its $25,000 “plant grant,” which is given to any organization working on unique projects that are linked to the brand’s ethos of getting people to eat more plants. For its digital-focused campaign, the agency helped reinforce the environmental impact of Earth’s Own products, calling on consumers to take part in a plant-based revolution.

And earlier this spring, Craft helped Mott’s Fruitsations promote its efforts to dial back on sugar content as part of its goal to “have a positive influence on society” through health and wellness. The “Buy a Cup Give a Cup” donation program for the Breakfast Club of Canada included a cross-province media tour with Jason Priestly from Beverly Hills 90210 having a fireside chat with lifestyle, parenting and food media about the Breakfast Club’s impact, resulting in 40 million media impressions.

Pasquin adds that while “functional benefits are becoming a dime a dozen,” they’re still a critically important proof-point in a brand’s story. However, simply promoting things like new product packaging, “that’s not something people are going to talk about at the dinner table. That new formulation of your product? Well, that’s probably improving quality scores by 10%, but it’s not the thing that’s going to get people passionate and sharing stories about your brand in the way that you want them to.”

New key business: Jumpstart Charities; Brown Forman; Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits; Earth’s Own; The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair; Yves Veggie Cuisine.

New hires: Jordana Wolch, VP.

Staff: 14

To see the agency’s winning cases, visit the AOY website