Robin Hood shows you don’t need a family to bake

The flour brand is trying to keep up pandemic momentum by focusing on people still figuring things out on their own.


Robin Hood wants to maintain home baking momentum by reaching out to messy, single experimenters.

Breadmaking newbies became a pandemic staple, as much as anything kept in the pantry, and the J.M. Smucker flour brand is addressing the group with creative featuring a solo baker who’s less polished than a professional.

“You Are a Baker,” developed by agency Leo Burnett, is the latest iteration of the brand’s “The Magic is in the Making” positioning. In the spot, a baker embraces her mistakes, gaining confidence in the kitchen while making a pink layer cake – showing that baking can still be fun, even if your techniques aren’t perfect.

Adam Zitney, VP marketing at Smucker Foods of Canada, tells strategy it’s a contrast to the more polished and professional look of previous campaigns, which focused on bringing the family together rather than enjoying the process solo. While baking cuts across all demos, the insight around this latest effort is that baking alone can be exhilarating too.

“Given the spike in new and less experienced bakers in Canada through the pandemic, you would’ve thought we’d written the latest execution during this time,” Zitney says, “but we had the script in hand before last March.”

Interest in breadmaking spiked during the first wave of the pandemic, as consumers sought comfort in nostalgic, Depression-Era recipes. By contrast, ahead of the holidays, their attention turned to recipes for goods that could easily be packaged as gifts, like cookies and bars. According to Zitney, however, home baking had already taken off prior to the pandemic – part of a broader DIY movement over the last three to four years that has driven the category forward – so it’s best to target based on skill level rather than demos.

The spot will run across Canada on TV and digital throughout the year, with media planning led by Spark. Since baking has mass appeal, the brand wanted to get a broad reach with TV and recipe engagement, according to Zitney. There’s also a content partnership involving a reality show, with social media inspiration and instructional videos.

There continues to be a “ton of work” to do at point of purchase, he says, so the company isn’t laying off shopper marketing. The brand still has a lot of presence in brick and mortar, as this type of marketing is especially effective for occasions, but is shifting some of the dollars to digital.

With the number one and number two brands in the category, Zitney says the biggest competition comes from the “ready-made world.”

When things return to normal on the COVID front, company insights are forecasting a year-over-year decline, but that baking will still be above pre-pandemic baselines. There have been material increases in household penetration, and he says there will be stickiness to baking as an at-home behaviour. Part of this is because DTC meal services are helping to get more Canadians comfortable in the kitchen.

The brand also reports it’s seen unprecedented pandemic-driven demand across categories like coffee and peanut butter as well.