How Ben’s Original changed out-of-date image to offer everyone a seat at the table

By Awards Analyst | The Drum Awards

June 15, 2022 | 4 min read

Mars and The&Partnership won Best Response to Change as well as Rebrand or Relaunch Strategy of the Year at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022 for Ben’s Original with the ’We’re All Original Recipes’ campaign. Here, we find out more about what went into this successful project...

In the summer of 2020, a variety of historic racial injustices were thrown to the fore, prompting Mars Food to evolve the long-established Ben’s brand – from Uncle Ben’s to Ben’s Original. But doing so risked destabilizing a brand with long-standing equity, negatively impacting sales. So The&Partnership needed to define a new brand platform that could unite all points of view.

The brief

The brand listened and learned from thousands of consumers, its own associates and other stakeholders from around the world – particularly those in the Black community – to better understand the inequities associated with the name and iconography of the Uncle Ben’s brand. More than half of consumers (55%) wanted to see the brand change in some way.

The brand took real action to enhance inclusion and equity in the world, guided by a new brand purpose: to create opportunities that ’offer everyone a seat at the table’. Through this new purpose, the brand also provided access to nutritious meals to underserved communities as well as educational opportunities to increase diversity in the food industry, with around $6m committed over five years to create opportunities.

The challenge was that not all customers agreed on this new direction. And while the company knew that changing was the right decision, modeling showed any alteration to the pack design could result in an immediate decline in sales of up to 20%.

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The Idea

With the new brand purpose (to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table) in mind, The&Partnership needed to build on the purpose to define a brand platform that aligned with the needs of each audience to arrive at a positioning that united all points of view.

By recognizing that every person, every conversation, every family and every mealtime is unique, Ben’s Original was able to dramatize the belief that everyone deserves a seat at the table in a credible and authentic way.

The launch campaign, ‘We’re All Original Recipes’, was based on the idea that everyone brings something different to the table, that everyone has a unique story to tell and an original recipe to share. As such, Ben’s Original wanted to celebrate these differences and showcase the ingredients that make us who we are – our own original recipes.

Building on a foundation of important brand activity, including earned media, stakeholder management and customer engagement, the campaign featured TV, digital, social, influencers, web and PR.

The results

The relaunch saw a 42% increase in prompted awareness within three months, 2.59bn earned reach, of which 93% positive or neutral sentiment, and a market share increase of 10%.

Brand perception also increased favorably with 18.6m plus meals donated to underserved communities in 2021 and 300 scholarships intended to increase diversity in the food industry between 2021 and 2025.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022. You can see all the winners here.

And check out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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