Annie Murphy gets ‘Crispy’ for PepsiCo

Who: PepsiCo Canada’s Crispy Minis brand, with Behaviour for strategy and creative; Citizen Relations for PR; Praxis for social media marketing, and OMD for media.

What: “That’s Crispy,” a new campaign starring popular Canadian actor Annie Murphy that the company said represents a “fresh era” for the snack brand.

When & Where: The campaign launched today (June 26), running in English and French across TV, digital, social, and out-of-home. The English component also features on-screen integration within the popular reality show, The Bachelorette.

Why: Crispy Minis currently controls more than 90% share of the rice cake market, so it’s obviously not about awareness. But while the brand has done a good job of communicating its functional benefits (ie: a better-for-you snack option) “That’s Crispy” is about building emotional affinity with consumers, said Logan Chambers, senior director of marketing with Quaker Canada.

“Our previous message that rice cakes actually taste good has landed, and now it’s about bringing some more personality and vim to the brand,” he said.

Crispy Minis skews towards females 35+ and the brand is not trying to broaden its core target in any significant way, said Chambers. Instead, the goal is to get people to consider it a “permissible” snack that delivers on three key criteria: Taste, good-for-you, and emotional uplift. “It’s about getting Crispy Minis into their [snacking] repertoire by building that emotional connection,” he said.

“That’s Crispy” represents PepsiCo’s largest-ever marketing investment in the brand, said Chambers. “Our creative ambitions have never been higher, and this campaign represents that,” he said. “We’re trying to do things that people will pay attention to more often and build the business with breakthrough work.”

How: Murphy has become something of a go-to for Canadian brands ever since her break-out role in Schitt’s Creek, appearing in recent campaigns for the likes of HelloFreshThe Bay, and Nintendo.

While Crispy Minis has never enlisted a celebrity spokesperson for its marketing, Chambers said that recruiting Murphy aligns with its commitment to creating work that stands out (he cited the company’s recent Cannes Lions-winning work for Cheeto’s as an example).

“We knew we wanted a Canadian, we knew we wanted a woman, we knew we wanted somebody popular but also funny, charming and good-humoured,” said Chambers. “There’s some amazing talent in Canada, but Annie jumps to the top of that list pretty quickly.”

Murphy’s role in the campaign also extended to script development and editing. “We asked ourselves ‘What’s authentically Annie?’ and really approached the script-writing with tons of collaboration with her,” said Chambers.
The brand also surrounded Murphy with a creative team that included director Jordan Canning (who directed her in Schitt’s Creek, and has also helmed shows like Fraggle Rock, and Baroness Von Sketch Show) and former SNL head writer Anna Drezen.
The hero spot features a winking reference to the fact that Murphy is starring in an ad, opening on her saying that she’s a serious actress who would never stoop so low as to appear in an ad with a catchphrase. That’s punctuated by a shot of framed black-and-white picture of her starring in Hamlet, holding Yorick’s skull.
Her reluctance to utter anything like a catchphrase is completely forgotten after eating a Crispy Mini, and the rest of the spot features her gleefully inserting herself into people’s lives and explaining the concept of “crispy”—like telling a restaurant it’s your birthday for free cake, or watching daytime TV during a meeting.
“It’s shining a spotlight on things that might be guilty pleasures…and showing the pleasure side rather than the guilty side,” said Chambers of the creative approach.

The 60-second hero spot will run during every episode of The Bachelorette—a show that aligns perfectly with Crispy Minis’ “guilty pleasure” positioning, said Chambers—accompanied by lower thirds that will appear during particularly “crispy” moments in each episode.

There is also a series of standalone six-second spots featuring Murphy and Quebec spokesperson Marie-Lyne Joncas that will run on the social networks, accompanied by out-of-home.

Chris Powell