Splenda is back advertising on US TV for the first time in two years, lured back not by the vast reach of the upcoming Super Bowl but by the Golden Globes’ audience and timing.
Last night (5 January) saw the sweetener’s Stevia sub-brand broadcast to the Golden Globes’ audience of 18.3 million viewers, having bought a primetime 60-second ad slot during the main event and another during the red-carpet show on E.
It was the first time Splenda’s Stevia brand had funnelled media spend into the national broadcast, and the first time the Heartland Foods master brand had appeared on TV since 2018.
The ad, a tongue-in-cheek series of vignettes that compares the natural stevia plant to cannabis, had been circulating on digital, streaming and local markets since September.
“It's a complete departure from where we’ve been in the past,” said Ami Krishan, senior director of marketing at Splenda. “In the sweetener category, many spots tend to be a little bit ... more mundane, more benefit-driven.
“Having the ability to have self-awareness is appreciated from a consumer audience and refreshing from a brand perspective.”
By the end of the year, Splenda was confident the work from the Tennessee-based Humanaut would be accepted by a wider audience outside of its previously targeted reach. The Globes – one of the first US viewing events of the year – was selected as a “tentpole” media moment to launch onto TV for both its timing and its audience.
Media agency Junction 37 secured the placements.
“People have just kicked off their New Year resolutions – losing weight, making healthier choices and reaching goals is top of mind right now,” explained Krishan. “We know there’s a lot of negative awareness and news behind sugar… we're targeting those consumers looking for more health-conscious, everyday solutions.
“The Golden Globes also ... skews younger and more towards this psychographic profile. Obviously, a lot of the Globes is based on fashion and entertainment so an event that hits those checkmarks – fun, edgy and entertaining to this younger audience – was a home run.”
Splenda Stevia chose to make its TV debut on just one month before the biggest TV moment of the year – the 54th Super Bowl. Krishan, who is currently focused on reach and brand awareness, said he did consider paying the $5m+ for 30 seconds of airtime, but the Globes “made more sense at this time”.
“We skew it a little more female with Splenda Stevia ... so while the Super Bowl was on our radar screen, we made a conscious decision to lean into the Golden Globes,” he explained.
However, money also played a part. Splenda wanted to broadcast the full 60 seconds of the commercial; to do so during the Super Bowl would cost upwards of $11m. According to MediaRadar, the Golden Globes’ entire ad revenue for 2019 came to $35m, suggesting a much cheaper placement price in comparison to the year’s biggest football game.
Krishan and Junction 37 are now forging ahead with a media plan that will target younger, health-conscious consumers through platforms such as Hulu while investing in flagship events for reach.
“We can cut this ad into a 30-second and 15-second for all other opportunities on the horizon,” he said. “All the doors are open. If we feel placement makes sense and the opportunities are right, we'll aggressively start to explore them and go after them."