President’s Choice says consumers have ‘Nothing to Fear’ from its Plant-Based line

Who: President’s Choice (PC) and John St.

What: “Nothing to Fear,” a campaign promoting PC’s Plant-Based line, with an emphasis on two products: Chickenless Breaded Strips and Original Cheesecake-Style Dessert.

While its products have previously been featured in broader PC advertising, such as the Insider’s Collection, this is the first standalone campaign for the Plant-Based brand.

Why: To drive awareness and trial of the Plant-Based product line, says Kevin Andrews, director of marketing, control brands, for President’s Choice parent Loblaw Companies Limited. “If people say they want to try plant-based foods, we want them to know we have offerings to meet their needs,” he says.

Why these products?: There are currently 20 SKUs in PC’s Plant-Based product line, but the launch advertising is focused on products that have mass appeal and are tailored towards convenience.

“We know that Canadians are always looking for convenient ways to get dinner on the table and the Chickenless Breaded Strips are the perfect way to do that,” says Andrews. Future marketing will focus on seasonal products, such as the Undeniable Burger.

When & Where: The campaign debuted with a 30-second ad during the Jan. 5 Golden Globes telecast, and runs through Feb. 16. In addition to TV, the campaign includes digital video and social.

How: The creative concept is built around the idea of consumers fearing plant-based foods, specifically because they might not taste very good or could be difficult to prepare, etc.

“We were trying to do something that spoke to the underlying barriers around trying plant-based products in general,” says John St.’s chief creative officer, Angus Tucker. “It’s a small-F fear, because nobody is literally scared of these things, but people are hesitant to try them because generally there’s nervousness about taste.”

That’s particularly true of the anchor spot promoting Chickenless Breaded Strips, which leans hard into horror tropes, with sinister music and lots of close-ups on faces partially shrouded in darkness.

The spot focuses on three generations of males who are gathered together in a cabin with nothing but Chickenless Breaded Strips to eat.

Tucker says the spot is something of an homage to horror flicks like The Cabin in the Woods, although its sinister tone is leavened somewhat by a Drunk History vibe. The story is narrated by the grandfather, who supplies the voice for every character. The spot ends with the grandfather expressing his fondness for the Chickenless Breaded Strips.

A second spot is less horror specific, with a young girl relaying a story of being shocked when her mother purchases a plant-based cake for her birthday party (“How could you Karen?”) only to be surprised to discover she likes it.

“We were trying to cover off different customer sets,” says Andrews of the stylistic differences. “In the Cabin in the Woods spot, so to speak, you’ve got a grandfather who might be the most resistant to trying something new and showing that it wasn’t a massive [hurdle] to overcome, while the cheesecake spot… is a great example that kids can try this plant-based movement as well.”

And we quote: “For us it’s about really meeting customer needs when they’re most looking for plant-based options… We’ve seen the growth in consumer desire and we felt this was the perfect time to showcase the various solutions we have and really introduce plant-based options into Canadians’ diets.”—Kevin Andrews, director of marketing, control brands, Loblaw Companies Limited.


Chris Powell