How to 'Dole' out goodness this festive season

By Amit Bapna | Editor-at-large

December 24, 2020 | 7 min read

Dole's latest campaign deploys the imagery of the teddy bear to drive awareness around the growing hunger gap.

Dole Packaged Foods, the leading global player in fresh and packaged fruits, vegetables and fruit-based products, has launched the #UnstuffedBears campaign, the latest in a string of campaigns that tie into a more purpose-driven marketing strategy.

Rupen Desai, global CMO of Singapore-based Dole Packaged Foods shares with The Drum what went into making of the campaign, how it fits into the brand’s overall positioning, a look back at the year 2020 and the game plan for 2021.

How has the year 2020 been for Dole, in terms of overall business?

2020 has been a year full of learnings that allow us to understand how our consumers are evolving, our role with people and planet and how we can contribute to the world with ‘The Dole Promise’, where we live best when people, planet and prosperity thrive together, not at the cost of each other.

Apart from continuously ensuring the safety of our teams, we did go through a learning curve on managing supply chain disruptions, at the start of the pandemic. The pandemic is forcing each of us to evaluate what we eat, what’s important to us and our view of our own health and wellness, so we are one of those categories that are benefiting in 2020.

This is also the time where companies might be tempted to prioritise profit over people or the planet. With our promises, we are making an effort to live out the fact that our actions have an impact on the planet we all live on and at the end of the day, all of us pay the consequences of such decisions.

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How has ‘The Dole Promise’ evolved since the new positioning was launched in July 2020?

This year we made six promises to the world and three of them have a direct impact on nutrition. We piloted and addressed a food desert model in Jackson City, Mississippi in the US where we are helping to create a food oasis and build a sustainable model for access, affordability and awareness (education). Now we are expanding this initiative to cities experiencing a similar reality.

We are also working towards net zero carbon in our operations, we have recently installed more than 33,000 square meters of solar panels at Dole facilities in Thailand and the Philippines. The panels will generate renewable energy annually and reduce CO2 emissions by over 100,000 metric tons over the next 15 years.

We are currently piloting options that move us away from using plastics and we will announce those, soon. There is still a long way to go, but we feel energized, because that is the way we learn to re-invent ourselves and continually iterate.

Finally, we are ending the year launching #unstuffedbears to help feed hungry children around the world, but also creating awareness around the issue and how we can all do our part. We believe our promises and ambitions are big, and our will to achieve them even bigger.

How does the #UnstuffedBears campaign fit into the Dole brand world?

At Dole, we don’t accept the unequal world we live in and believe that good nutrition should be like sunshine – accessible, available, affordable for everyone, not just a few. For a company like ours, where you can literally ‘eat’ our purpose, it’s important we champion a world where access to nutrition is a human right, for all. This is our rallying cry: ‘Sunshine For All’.

For this to be meaningful, we believe purpose must permeate every part of the company: from our business model and how we make decisions and products to our work with partners, what we lobby for and legislate on and campaigning for a more equal world. #UnstuffedBears is our way of showing the world that hunger is not something we should feel comfortable with and that we are committed to changing this harsh reality.

What are the various legs of this global campaign?

We wanted to make sure this campaign created real impact, worked globally, acknowledged the holiday season and could become meaningful action year on year. The metaphor of bears allows us to build relevance across cultures, age groups and emotions across the world.

Thus, a website was built with a ‘donation machine’ where people could help our partners fill the tummies of cute, cuddly teddy bears that represent hungry children everywhere. Videos and static assets have been created for YouTube, Facebook and Instagram and an augmented reality teddy that shows gratitude to people who support the cause. The partners: and their superpowers are key to make this movement possible across each market - the UK, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and USA.

How complex was the creative brief, considering it was for a challenging problem called ‘hunger’?

Our one-line brief was ‘Let’s change the stat around the poignant food security crisis, together’. The number of food insecure people has risen dramatically, during the pandemic, including the number of impacted children. We hope to make people aware, and even if they choose not to engage with this call-to-action, we hope they choose to act in their local communities and beyond.

The campaign has been conceived by London-based creative agency St. Luke’s with additional support from other agency partners.

Was there one common brief or was it tweaked as per the markets?

It is a global issue and there was, thus, one brief. Coincidentally, last night, someone messaged us from India; asking if we have a partner in India on this initiative. And how they can help the cause. And we do not, yet. But our stance is simple – whether we air this or not, whether we have a partner or not (yet) – let’s start chipping away so we change this statistic together. So, we are responding and starting to work together with partners reaching out for help in India.

If you were to peep into what 2021 could be like…

2021 will present the aftermath of the pandemic – unfortunately, we expect rising hunger, downsized economies, along with a deeper realisation of what’s important like planet consciousness and more. So, we do expect to be quite busy innovating around bringing more fruit and nutrition, to more people, across more economic realities, in a way where we try and leave the planet better than we found it.

We, often, use this quote internally to help guide our journey: ‘We are not where we used to be. And for sure, we are not, where we need to be…’. For everyone that can help us bring #sunshinetoall, please join us.


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