The 23-year old artisanal bread company has been slowly building its brand over the years, and is now launching its first mass-marketing campaign. The company was founded as a small store in Toronto in 1993, and today its baguettes and breads are available at grocery stores, hotels and restaurants throughout Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean.
“At the root of our success has always been our remarkable bread… and we’ve been using that as our core, with our authentic story. Doing that customer by customer, with sampling, culinary events and [partnering with] influencers, got us where we are now,” said John Kennedy, who joined Ace Bakery as vice-president of marketing in January this year.
“But, we realized we were reaching a tipping point in terms of brand development and awareness,” he said. “We saw that adding some above-the-line media to the mix was an opportunity to deliver a bit of a step change for our next phase of growth.”
The “Discover Great Bread” campaign, created by KBS, includes a 30-second TV spot centred on Ace’s signature white baguettes. It shows how people select, eat and use baguettes, from giving it a squeeze in a grocery store, to sneaking a piece before bringing it to the dinner table, to using it to soak up sauce on a plate.
The ad is airing across the Greater Toronto Area. The campaign also includes print ads in LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine and Ricardo, subway murals including a digital board at Union Station, and billboards across Toronto and Ottawa starting late September until the end of the year. In addition, Ace brand ambassadors will be stationed at grocery stores across the country every Friday and Saturday, offering shoppers fresh samples of bread. Cairns Oneil handled the media buy.
To gain insights for its campaign, Ace Bakery conducted months of consumer research including focus groups, in-home ethnographic deep dives and shop-alongs, said Kennedy.
“We wanted to build an emotional connection for the Ace brand and we wanted to tap into some of the consumer insights that we uncovered, like the universal truth of squeezing bread before you buy it… And when you buy a baguette, people can’t resist sneaking a little taste,” said Kennedy. “We had consumers telling us about biting off the end of a baguette on the way home – they just can’t resist it.”
Ace Bakery’s target audience is referred to internally as “Danielle”—female, 25 to 54 years old, potentially married with kids. “She’s looking to make good food choices and to make meals a little better,” said Kennedy. “She likes to entertain, she keeps up with food trends, but she’s not an over-the-top foodie.”
While bread has historically been at the centre of the table, “people are looking for permission to enjoy really good carbs,” he added. “Not all carbs are created equally, so we wanted to say if you’re going to enjoy carbs, pick the very best option available.”