McCain keeps with diversity agenda after seeing brand boost

McCain is launching a new ad campaign to coincide with Valentine’s Day that features a diverse range of couples as it looks to build on success.

McCain is keeping with its diversity agenda in its new marketing campaign after its last campaign focusing on depictions of modern family life significantly increased brand awareness.

In an interview with Marketing Week, Mark Hodge, marketing director at McCain Foods, speaks passionately about the company’s belief in championing diversity because it is the right thing to do, but notes it also makes business sense. The frozen food brand claims it has managed to significantly improve the brand awareness on the back of the campaign – not an easy feat for an established brand.

McCain says that since the launch of the ‘We Are Family’ campaign last year, the brand has seen a 10% increase in brand meaning and brand perception, plus a 14% increase in brand difference.

That is backed up by data from YouGov BrandIndex, which shows that its index score (a measure of metrics including quality, value and satisfaction) is up by 0.4 points to 18.6 over the past six months at a time when all its major competitors saw consumer perceptions fall.

Hodge says:“We took a bold step in 2017 and found it really resonated with people. We found it created a real space in consumer’s minds that is distinctive for the brand.

“The last campaign worked really well and without a doubt it’s been the most talked about campaign we’ve had on the brand, in terms of both sales and social media.”

For me it is important that as a big brand we’re there to champion and celebrate diversity in this nation. The world is changing and I think as a brand rather than resist it we should embrace and celebrate it.

Mark Hodge, McCain

However, the last campaign was not without controversy, with a gay couple featured in the ad subjected to online abuse. That will not stop McCain celebrating “honest modern day family life”, with its new campaign focused around love featuring a range of real-life couples including dancers Kimberley and Molly, and Andy and Tara, who won a gold medal at the Paralympics

The new advert, created by Adam+Eve DDB, will initially run for six weeks from today (9 February) to coincide with Valentine’s Day but will come back at various points in the year, running alongside the original advert. It will appear on television, radio and across social.

Getting diversity right

McCain is not alone in trying to appeal to a more diverse audience but from Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner advert to Tesco at Christmas, many have found this can cause controversy.

READ MORE: Ikea – Criticism of campaigns that champion diversity only pushes us on

Hodge argues that the key to avoiding this is taking your time and making sure the message is right. He says: “We’re confident we’ve got a strong grounding with diversity but it’s very easy to get it wrong and harder to get it right. We‘ve gone to a lot of time and effort to avoid this.”

At McCain, that process includes using real people in its adverts, which it has done since 2015, and Hodge explains that the company prides itself on finding genuine families and couples.

“We put so much time and effort into the casting. We look for people who are really interesting and have real stories. We go into their homes, interview them a lot, all to get that depth of human story which is really powerful,” he explains.

Growing in a tough market

The frozen food market faces challenges at the moment as Brexit hits food prices and changes in consumer habits see more people looking for healthier options. McCain has tried to combat this in part by introducing new premium products, such as sweet potato fries, and moving into the chilled aisle in September 2016, to cater to customers who prefer dining out.

Hodge says: “Moving into the chilled aisle is a big thing for the brand. We want to grow as a brand and to be more relevant to some families so we know we have to be in the chilled aisle. We’re trying to give people more opportunity and connect with more audiences. It’s worked well, 70% of our sales have been incremental to the chilled category.”

McCain proves that when diversity is done well brands will be rewarded. Hodge concludes: “For me it is important that as a big brand we’re there to champion and celebrate diversity in this nation. The world is changing and I think as a brand rather than resist it we should embrace and celebrate it.”