Johnsonville squeezes a lot of everyday moments into its sausage campaign

The brand focuses on versatility in its first effort handled entirely by a Canadian agency.

johnsonville-sausages2Johnsonville is using the element of surprise to show all the different moments one of its sausages can liven up – or save from disaster.

The 76-year-old, Wisconsin-based brand’s “The Sausage” campaign shows that life is full of surprising moments, including husbands forgetting important anniversaries and friends dropping by unexpectedly to eat all your food.

Leading with TV, there will be five spots running nationally, led by Canadian AOR Milestone, which handled strategy, creative and media. The agency worked with Nimble Content and Eggplant Sound to develop the spots, all of which were filmed in Canada.

Each one highlights a different sausage and usage occasion, says Jackie Hendricks, Canadian brand lead at Johnsonville, a way to showcase how a line up that is based around one product – sausage – has enough versatility to fit with a whole range of planned and unplanned occasions.

The format and “Yup, that’s a Johnsonville moment” tagline are new with this campaign, and Hendricks thinks they have legs.

“Sausage is an incredible product – you can dress it up or down,” Hendricks says, and the brand wanted to celebrate the versatility of a food that can be enjoyed in the summer or winter, at a BBQ with the boys, to impress the in-laws, or create a lovely meal that may just save the day.

This is the first time Johnsonville has tapped a Canadian agency to handle all elements of a campaign, Hendricks says. While Johnsonville is based in Wisconsin, it values working with in-market agency partners keep it aware of cultural nuances and relevant to local consumers. The brand’s largest focus in Canada is to be relatable and authentic, and in this evolution, bring in a little humour as well.

“We are serious about great sausage, and we see our values around good food from a good place being something that aligns well with Canadian values,” she adds.

The relationship with Milestone began in 2019, when the shop pitched the brand for the launch of its fully cooked breakfast sausage, cinching the account win by virtue of what Hendricks calls their strategy, creative thinking and smart omni-channel approach. The success of that launch turned into further work in above-the-line, shopper marketing, packaging, media and strategy across the full portfolio.

When it comes to lockdown, Hendricks says Johnsonville is seeing a lot of people cooking more from home looking for versatile and easy meal options. Breakfast and dinner are both consistently strong – with the former heaviest around the holidays and the latter around spring and summer – but Hendricks says demand for both has stayed healthy, and is the leading brand of sausage in Canada.

Hendricks says broadcast media has always been strong for the brand, with the NHL playoffs being a key time to activate, but social and digital media have been playing a key role in the media mix, especially considering how important these channels are for recipe inspiration.