The Chopped Leaf dances its way onto TV

Who: The Chopped Leaf, with Crew Marketing Partners for strategy and creative; Crew X for production (directed by former creative-director-turned-director Rob Tarry); Media Dimensions for media.

What: “It’ll Move You,” a national TV campaign promoting the QSR chain’s new Shake-a-Bowl salad product. It’s the company’s first work with Crew.

When & Where: The Chopped Leaf’s first foray into TV, the campaign launched nationally across Corus Entertainment’s specialty channels—as well as Global stations in B.C. and Alberta—on May 1, running for 12 weeks. The company had previously relied primarily on local store marketing.

Why: The Chopped Leaf was established in Kelowna, BC in 2007, with an emphasis on healthy eating on-the-go. It now has more than 100 restaurants in six provinces, with plans to open 30 new restaurants this year—focusing primarily on Ontario, Manitoba and Atlantic Canada.

The expansion, combined with a revamped menu led by the new Shake-A-Bowl—which puts nine of the chain’s most popular menu items in a new “shakeable” bowl format—felt like the right time to launch the brand’s first TV campaign, said Karen Paradine, marketing director for The Chopped Leaf’s parent company, Innovative Food Brands.

“I thought it was broadcast worthy, so we put it on television,” said Paradine, who spent 12 years in marketing roles with Tim Hortons before joining The Chopped Leaf in 2022. While modern marketing prioritizes digital, TV remains a prestige medium capable of delivering big audiences, she said. “There’s still value out there when it comes to mass advertising and reaching as many eyeballs and households as possible.”

“For me, what drives success is does it [create] chatter? One of our franchisees reached out today and said they had two customers come in who said they’d never heard of The Chopped Leaf, but saw the commercial and wanted to come in to try the new Shake-a-Bowl,” she added.

How: The Shake-a-Bowl is based on the insight that people can’t resist the urge to shake up a salad contained in a bowl with a lid, said Paradine. The creative leans into that idea, showing a Chopped Leaf customer being presented with a Shake-A-Bowl and then ripping off his boring everyday clothes to reveal a silver and gold, dance floor-ready outfit. As he begins dancing (and enthusiastically shaking), Chopped Leafs customers waiting for their order get swept up in the excitement.

While it’s not a high-concept spot, it’s got a charm that aligns with the brand’s personality. “We are definitely about being approachable, inspiring, positive, vibrant and fun,” said Paradine. “We’ve got 15 seconds to get our message across, so we wanted something that was going to capture people’s attention.”

The spot is the perfect embodiment of the campaign’s central idea of the Shake-a-Bow being the bowl that moves you. “He’s not just dancing with the bowl in his hand, the bowl is what’s moving him,” said Paradine.

The Tim’s effect: Paradine has spent much of her career working either with or the food service industry, including the early part of her career working on account services for McDonald’s Canada with Cossette.

She also more than 12 years with Tim Hortons in various marketing roles, eventually rising to the position of senior marketing manager for Canada and the U.S.  During her time at Tim’s, she oversaw award-winning campaigns including the “#TimsDarkExperiment” to launch the brand’s dark roast coffee, and the first spot featuring NHL players and real-life friends Sidney Crosby and Nate MacKinnon.

Tim’s is one of the country’s shrewdest QSR marketers, and Paradine, who joined Innovative Food Brands last year, said she plans to take a page from its marketing playbook with The Chopped Leaf. “The [marketing] principles are the same, whether you’re a large chain or an up-and-coming brand like The Chopped Leaf,” she said. “We’re leading with our values and being consistent, so our customers always know what to expect.”

Her goal with The Chopped Leaf is to make it the QSR a destination for “premium-quality, best tasting, craveable salad bowls and wraps. Tim’s has their coffee, and we’ve got unique salad dressings that [customers] can only get from The Chopped Leaf,” she said. “I want to develop that crave-ability factor as it relates to our salads.”

And we quote: “We wanted to create an ad that would capture the spirit of the Shake-A-Bowl and show people how fun healthy eating can be.” —  Gerald Schoenhoff, chief creative officer, Crew

Chris Powell