Queen St. Bakery (pole) vaults onto national stage with first brand campaign

Who: Queen St. Bakery, with Mint for creative, production by Set or Sail (Sean McLeod directing), and media by Queen St. Bakery working with performance marketing specialists Commerce Garage.

What: “Honestly Good,” the first national ad campaign for the three-year-old bread company. The campaign is built around Canadian pole vaulter Alysha Newman—a medal contender at the Tokyo Olympics.

When & Where: The social and digital campaign debuted on July 9 with a 50-second hero film, with cutdowns and additional content from the shoot rolling out soon.

Why: Queen St. Bakery makes plant-based breads using chia and bean flour. Since raising funding through Arlene Dickinson’s District Ventures last year, it has expanded its distribution to more than 1,000 locations across Canada.

With that momentum, Queen St. wanted its first ad campaign to tackle misconceptions about the “free-from” food industry and emphasize how its bread can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

“Big brands love to tell you what their products don’t contain, that they’re free from this and contain none of that, without telling you anything about what they’re actually made of,” said chief marketing officer Mark Arvai in a release. “The average piece of gluten-free bread in Canada still has more sugar than fibre, but you never see that on the front of the packet. At best it’s lazy, at worst it’s deceitful.”

How: Queen St. Bakery was known for its healthy bread, but didn’t have much of a brand voice before this, said Mint’s executive creative director Kim Tarlo. Arvai approached the agency in the spring about doing a campaign using Newman. “He came to me and said ‘Listen, we’ve got Alysha, she’s really enthusiastic as an ambassador and we want to do something with her.'” said Tarlo.

After talking with Newman, Mint’s creative team quickly realized they could craft an ad around her outgoing personality. “She’s confident, she’s funny, she’s quirky, and so the tone of the spot was really born out of her personality,” said Tarlo.

In the ad, Newman introduces herself and shares two key facts: “I love bread and I’m honest.” She goes on to explain that as healthy as she is, she loves to eat Queen Street Bakery bread and why. The slightly cheeky, no-BS tone is reminiscent of the early Dollar Shave Club creative, said Tarlo: Straight talk introducing the product and describing the benefits, but delivered with wit and a wry smile that Newman was able to deliver.

They had a tight script and had done some rehearsing, but Newman was playful on set and willing to improvise during the one-day shoot, said Tarlo.

Like pouring beans over herself?  “That was her idea,” said Tarlo. “We’re so used to seeing athletes serious and focused and not really showing their looser side. With Alysha, part of being honest is showing her full self. She’s clearly an incredible athlete, she’s clearly in great shape, but she’s also got this great entertainment side of her that is fun to watch.”

And we quote: “People have this idea that bread can’t be something you eat if you’re trying to be healthy, and that’s just B.S… So we got the last person you’d expect to be eating bread to be our spokesperson, an athlete training for the Olympics.”  Mark Arvai, CMO, Queen St. Bakery

David Brown