Harbinger IPRN Project of the Year Entry Consumer Products – Corporate Social Responsibility

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Harbinger IPRN Project of the Year Entry

Consumer Products/Corporate Social Responsibility

Hellmann’s Canada


PR & Business Challenge

Hellmann’s is an iconic, 100-year-old brand known for the unmistakable taste and texture it brings to salads and sandwiches. In the mid 2000s, this refrigerator staple was losing momentum in Canada as its key competitor, Kraft’s Miracle Whip salad dressing, sat firmly as the market leader. Simultaneously, consumers were becoming increasingly conscious of what they were eating and critical of packaged foods, with many Canadians avoiding Hellmann’s for its fat content. In fact, one study found that 75% of consumers perceived it to be unhealthy, essentially dubbing it ‘junk in a jar.’

Tackling negative health perceptions without compromising on pricing was a daunting challenge indeed. But Hellmann’s has a unique advantage – it’s real. That’s a lot more than Miracle Whip can say, as though it costs less than Hellmann’s, it cannot be categorized as ‘mayonnaise’ due to its heavy chemicals and processing.

But Hellmann’s begins with real, simple ingredients – eggs, oil and vinegar. In fact – in Canada, more than 95% of Hellmann’s Real is sourced from within Canada. It’s this commitment to simple, Canadian ingredients that guides Hellmann’s journey to bring more real food to Canadians.


Knowing that we had an ownable offering – a product made with simple, Canadian ingredients – we leveraged the core truth behind the brand to create a proposition that would help consumers feel better about buying Hellmann’s. We gave them more than just a product to buy; we gave them an idea to buy into.

We created a social mission for the brand we call the Real Food Movement – Hellmann’s commitment to helping Canadians discover the pleasure that comes from eating fresh food with simple ingredients. Through this mission, we illustrate not only the importance of eating well, but how Hellmann’s can help Canadians to do so – both functionally and emotionally.

We began with a guerilla marketing campaign in 2008 to gain the attention of Canadians and let them know what we stand for. We created a series of Hellmann’s Urban Gardens by converting abandoned parking lots into community gardens in major cities across Canada.

In 2009, the brand produced an informative online documentary illustrating concerns about the Canadian food system – though the country has the opportunity to be self-sustaining by producing our own food, our imports outweigh our exports by astonishing ratios.

But to truly demonstrate our commitment to helping Canadians eat real we needed to put our money where our mouth is – and we did that by supporting a variety of grassroots food programs across the country. We launched the Real Food Grant program in 2010, an application based initiative to deliver $100,000 in funding to worthy individuals and organizations committed to helping others learn about and experience real food. The excitement that those projects created – particularly with kids – proved to be a powerful vehicle for showing the emotion behind the Real Food Movement.

 By the end of 2011, the Real Food Grant Program had supported more than 40 projects with $210,000 in funding. We had seen such powerful and emotional proof in the programs we supported, but it was time to make sure that more Canadians were inspired by the work we’d done and were seeing the magic that happens when children experience hands-on real food learning.

We highlighted one glowing example of this through a project reveal amplified with both mass and earned media. A school in Red Deer, Alberta applied for a $25,000 Real Food Grant to replace cafeteria frying and warming equipment with proper cooking appliances that would enable them to overhaul their menu and serve healthier lunches to students.

We engaged a Canadian celebrity chef to help redesign the menu to include healthier yet delicious kid-focused food made with Hellmann’s. We also took an active role in the redesign of the cafeteria and how it was communicated to the school.

We staged an interactive, in-school press conference for broadcast, print and online media, complete with a menu reveal from Celebrity Chef Chuck Hughes, endorsement from school officials and the relaunch of the Real Food Grant Program. Students, media and other spectators were then brought to the field behind the school to witness the dramatic destruction of the school’s old deep fryer by a flashy monster truck. We also communicated the news about the cafeteria transformation and Hellmann’s support to national media.

The entire experience was caught on film and turned into a compelling online video and television ad designed to communicate Hellmann’s commitment to real to the entire nation.

The compelling PR story continued throughout 2012 through ongoing community media outreach to profile local Real Food Grant recipients, as well as a persuasive recipe campaign anchored by mayonnaise ‘myth-busting’ facts designed to dispel negative health perceptions and show the cooking versatility of Hellmann’s.


  • 2012 PR budget of $360,000; 23.2 million media impressions; $0.015/impression
  • Online video has received more than 2 million views to-date. See  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U3ZAzhshfo
  • 13,000 new Facebook ‘Likes’; 67,000 likes by end of 2012
  • Hellmann’s has seen sales increase every year since the launch of the Real Food Movement: +10% in 2007; +9% in 2008; +15% in 2009; +6% in 2010; +7% in 2011; and +7% as of August 2012

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