Bisto next for revamp as Premier Foods looks to revive sales

Premier Foods is set to launch a new campaign for Bisto in the hope of turning it into a “mega brand”, the latest of its core brands to see a new communications strategy and one of several planned changes to the way it approaches marketing as the company looks to revive flagging sales across key categories.

Bisto’s “Together Project”, a series of initiatives designed to bring separated friends, relatives and loved ones together over food will be backed by the launch of a new TV ad on Sunday (7 December).  A UK  trucker on the road in Sweden is given a surprise by the brand, which takes his wife and three children to see him.

The spot features an invitation for viewers to enter stories of being disconnected from loved ones. Bisto will then follow up on three entries, with two more films to air next year. The ‘Together Project’ is based on Bisto’s research, which shows that one in seven British families don’t own a dinner table and therefore do not spend time together during meals.

Making Bisto a ‘mega brand’

Helen Warren-Piper, marketing director for grocery at Premier Foods, told Marketing Week, the campaign, which heroes new product Bisto Simply Casserole Paste, “changes the way the brand is being advertised”

“This time it’s about a long-term brand mission to put Bisto into people’s lives and show what it does for families.”

She adds: “Bisto has the capacity to be a mega brand. It’s about creating meals throughout the week, and not just on Sundays.”

According to data from IRI as of 1 Nov, value sales for total Bisto brands were up by 4.3% to the previous year, with sauce mix up by 19.7%, and gravy by 4.4%. Sales of Bisto stock, however, were down by 20.3%.

Total sales of  Premier Foods’ ‘Power Brands’ have been heading in the opposite direction. In the six months to 30 June, sales of brands such as Bisto, Mr Kipling and HomePride fell 4.9% to £240.8m, according to the company’s own statement, with “subdued grocery markets” blamed for the slump.

Bisto is the latest of these power brands to see a new approach to the way it is marketed. Homepride was recently relaunched with its first TV advertising campaign in 10-years and  the return of brand mascot Fred, while Mr. Kipling’s packaging and advertising was revamped in August.

Innovation key to plans

The company is also looking hard at the OXO brand, which sits in the same £140m ‘dry mix’ category as Bisto.

“OXO is now all about flavour transformation and how it can change a meal,” Warren-Piper says. “We recently launched OXO Herbs & More in a wet gel pot format to open up more meal occasions.”

Premier Foods also recently announced a restructure that saw it split into two business units, “grocery” and “sweet treats”, with the aim of category development through product innovation.

“Our objective is for 20% of turnover to come from the innovation pipeline,” Warren-Piper says.

“We’ve had new things in the last three months from the likes of OXO, Bisto and Ambrosia. This has made people reappraise the brands and awareness numbers are coming back up again.”

New marketing recruits

Alongside this, Warren-Piper also says the company is looking to recruit a team of new marketers.

“We want to bring in the next generation of UK entrepreneurs,” she says.

These new marketers will push what she calls bold, attention-grabbing advertising.