McCain’s new ad pushes versatility of fries – and fun

Creative showcases first major redesign for the company in more than 50 years

Kristin Laird October 30, 2014

McCain FriesMcCain Foods Canada is focusing on its Superfries and the fun they bring to the table with a national television commercial – the company’s first since embarking on a global redesign of its logo and packaging.

The 30-second spot from Taxi shows family and friends gathering around kitchen tables and islands to “eat like kids again.” Some are inspired to dip their fries in ketchup as if “nobody is watching.”

The commercial ends with a product shot followed by the campaign tagline — “Share something good” — superimposed over the new logo. The effort focuses mostly on adult-only households.

In August, as the company was preparing to introduce its new packaging and logo in store, Paul Gallagher, director of marketing at McCain Foods Canada told Marketing small households (one and two person combined) represent 60% of the Canadian population and only half of them are buying within the frozen potato category.

“We haven’t done a good enough job demonstrating we have products that meet their needs,” he said. “Some consumers have an association with their childhood and that’s positive, but they’re not sure how they fit their life today.”

When conducting research on Canadian consumers, McCain discovered that many were unaware of the wide range of potato offerings in its line and tend to associate the brand’s french fries with one type of meal: hot dogs and hamburgers.

“They thought we only offered one kind of product — a white potato french fry,” said Gallagher. “That was one of the biggest insight drivers for us.”

The advertising demonstrates that McCain potato products are more than pool party and barbecue fare. Gallagher said it’s about sharing great food and good times.

Despite this, frozen food can still leave some consumers cold, which is why McCain Foods is embarking on a global redesign of its logo and packaging – to bring more warmth and a positive meaning to the brand.

While the logo script remains relatively unchanged, it now appears against a sun as it rises behind a farmer’s field – a real departure from the previous black box logo and the first major design change for the company in more than 50 years.

“What it does is warm the brand and make it feel more contemporary,” said Gallagher of the logo and packaging from U.K.-based design agency BrandOpus. “[It] brings to life those cues of naturalness and wholesomeness and that connection to the field and the land and the potato.”

The new look, which was developed with input from executive teams across several markets, was introduced in Britain, New Zealand and Australia last year and hit Canadian frozen food aisles in September starting with McCain’s potato portfolio. McCain wants to ensure the new brand identity for its potato products is a success in Canada before moving on to other categories like frozen pizza.

But McCain is facing a bigger battle than consumers’ willingness to accept a new logo. Consumer perception of the freshness and healthfulness of frozen food has waned in recent years with the rising preference towards fresh, locally grown fare. “Frozen food is still suffering from an image problem at the moment,” concludes Euromonitor International, which reported in February that Canadian processed frozen foods sales have been flat and are projected to actually drop as the economy improves—from $5.2 billion in 2013 to $5 billion by 2018.

According to its study, “As higher income consumers feel more confident about the economy, many will choose to dine out or buy fresh food to cook at home. To compete against restaurants, manufacturers are introducing restaurant-inspired foods, new flavours and foods with a healthier, nutritional profile.”

McCain has focused on staying ahead of the curve by positioning itself as a convenience food that has become increasingly natural with its ingredients and also transparent with its packaging. In 2009, McCain removed unfamiliar and unpronounceable ingredients from its products as part of the company’s “It’s all good” commitment, which cost more than $10 million in research and development.

The new brand identity, packaging and marketing support is a continued evolution of that journey, said Vikram Bawa, vice-president of marketing at McCain Foods Canada, who joined the company earlier this year from Nestlé Switzerland, where he was the global marketing director for frozen pizza.

Bawa acknowledged the challenge in communicating the freshness of frozen food versus items sold in the produce section and feels the new brand identity will shrink this hurdle. “In general, frozen foods across all categories are frozen at time of ripeness, which technically can be fresher than some produce in some cases,” he said. “It’s enhancing that link between the inherent goodness of the products that are being frozen and that’s where the warmth [of the logo] comes in and creates a better halo for consumers.”