Vachon celebrates centennial with time travel

Who: Bimbo Canada (Vachon), with Cossette for creative and strategy; Pas de fruit, Lamajeure, and Septième for production; and Starcom for media

What: “The Time Travelling Bites,” the second campaign in the snack food brand’s year-long strategy celebrating its 100th anniversary. “The Genesis of Joy” campaign in the spring used 100-year old photos, while the new campaign uses historical video footage to send two snack cake lovers back in time.

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, running nationally across OLV, digital and social.

Why: Nostalgia plays a key role in the consumer’s attachment to the brand, so for its 100th anniversary Vachon wanted to show how it has been present alongside generations of snack cake lovers.

“Considering that our customers are incredibly loyal and that our cakes have been part of the lives of multiple generations, it was crucial to celebrate the significant events we witnessed together,” Vachon’s senior marketing manager Maryna Shcherbyna told The Message. “In those 100 years of existence, we never forgot our purpose of spreading joy, so why not do just that by reliving iconic moments in our history?

How: Delivering on nostalgia, Cossette’s goal was to make Vachon a part of history by using archival footage in a fun and creative way, in line with the brand’s playful and engaging tone, said Cossette creative director Anik Ouellet.

In the three 30-second spots that anchor the campaign, two snack cake lovers are thrusted back to varying moments in time, depending on which Vachon product they’re eating.

A bite of a “Jos. Louis” sends the two characters to 1960 to witness Canadian wrestler and strongman, Great Antonio, pull four buses filled with passengers by a rope in Montreal. A bite of a “Jelly Log” sponge cake takes them to 2020 during the emergency plane landing on Quebec’s Metropolitan Highway. And a bite of the “Ah Caramel” cake transports them to Canadian track star Bruny Surin’s victory at the 1995 World Championships.

In each instance, the characters respond to their surroundings with muted astonishment, clinging tightly to their snack cakes. The spot concludes with the super “baking joy since 1923.”

In addition to the video clips, the brand shared anecdotes of its history on social media, such as the fact that Vachon sent 33% of its cakes to Canadian soldiers during WW2, and that it made wedding cakes until the 1970s.

Why these specific historical events? “It was imperative to select historic moments that collectively brought joy to Quebecers and all Canadians,” said Shcherbyna. In the case of Great Antonio, the black-and-white footage serves as a powerful reminder of Vachon’s legacy.

The Cossette team did extensive research to find the right settings and the right props to integrate the characters into these historical memories. “Merging archival video footage with our assets was a challenge, but a creatively fulfilling one—especially considering we don’t have a budget for cinematic special effects,” said Ouellet.

Emma Johnston-Wheeler