Playful new ads highlight ‘unexpected’ benefits, uses of Bumble Bee Seafoods’ shelf-stable tuna

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Bumble Bee Seafoods
Source: Bumble Bee Seafoods

Related tags: Bumble Bee Seafoods, Tuna

For many consumers, shelf-table tuna has long been a back-of-pantry fall back to tie together slim pickings or disparate ingredients, but a new playful ad campaign from Bumble Bee Seafoods seeks to reposition it as a front-of-pantry solution with diverse benefits and a broad array of potentially unanticipated uses.

The “Yes! Bumble Bee!” campaign, which launched in select regions late last month, “invites the world to rethink shelf-stable tuna by touting Bumble Bee tuna in a number of creative an unexpected ways,”​ Dan Hofmeister, senior VP of brand marketing for Bumble Bee, told FoodNavigator-USA.

He explained that the campaign, created by The Many, centers on four television spots that spoof iconic advertising styles for sports, active lifestyle products, fast food and meal delivery – but instead of offering the stereotypical products that consumers associate with each style, each ends with the surprise reveal of Bumble Bee tuna as the solution.

For example, in a spot featuring a woman boxing​, climbing rope, flipping massive tires and lifting weights a voice over asks listeners what fuels them to push harder during workouts. The answer, instead of an expected protein powder or energy drink, is lemon pepper flavored Bumble Bee tuna in pouch complete with a spork for easy eating anywhere.

Similarly, an ad ​showcasing an indoor grill with flames licking the bottoms of pans filled with sizzling vegetables or perfectly toasted slices of bread stacked high with cheese and tuna doesn’t direct viewers to their closest fast food restaurant as expected. Rather, the end cuts to a man in his home kitchen as a voice over explains the perfect tuna melt can be made at home before sensually growling “Yes! Bumble Bee!”

Upcoming spots will show how Bumble Bee can deliver portable energy for viewers’ next adventure or as a meal prep solution that is even more convenient than a meal kit.

“We looked at all the benefits of tuna and saw just how many different ways we can show up in consumers lives, and we are touting these benefits in ways that consumers may not have thought of ... in the past,”​ Hofmeister said.

He explains that the inspiration for the campaign was “to promote a solution for consumers’ desire for accessible, affordable, nutritious and delicious food that fits their lifestyles.”​ And while the campaign was in the early stages of development before the coronavirus hit, Hofmeister said the pandemic reinforced the need for the campaign’s message.

“During the peak pandemic stock-up period … we saw a massive surge in new buyers of our products. Buying households actually increased by about 100% over the prior year during that particular window. And what we saw was that those buying households included a broad spectrum of folks that were both very familiar with the can, but also a lot of younger buyers who turned to canned tuna and pouched tuna during this time of need and time of crisis to have in their pantry,”​ Hofmeister said.

And so,”​ he added, “this felt like the right time to start connecting with those households that are turning to our product for all these different reasons and then help them understand how to use it and put it more on the front of their radar and in the front of their pantry as an ongoing solution that makes sense for their daily lives – not just in the middle of the pandemic, but into the future as a good solution to nourish their lives in different ways.”

Pushing the digital, retail envelope

The campaign not only promises to showcase unexpected uses for shelf-stable tuna, but Hofmeister says creative elements also will show up in unexpected ways and places “as consumers are going about their daily lives.”

For example, tuna might show up in a consumers’ search trends as they look for workout shoes (to reinforce it as a protein source for fueling exercise), or on the popular food blog Foodbeast, which normally wouldn’t showcase shelf-stable tuna.

The campaign’s creatives also will show up in more traditional places, such as in retail stores, but will be much more subdued than they might have been before the pandemic.

“We wanted to be sensitive with a lot of in-store material at the point-of-purchase that we would typically leverage to recognize that a lot of consumers are concerned about getting in and out of stores as efficiently as possible. But we are actively testing some account specific executions,”​ including shippers and display cases featuring matching creatives to recall television and online ads, Hofmeister said.

In addition, he said, “we are looking at tapping into retailer specific digital and mobile marketing plans; being featured on their websites or their own digital assets as well as incorporating some of the creatives of this campaign into typical store elements.”

A new look and new products on the way

In addition to the campaign, Bumble Bee Seafoods is updating its image with new packaging for a whopping 176 SKUs, that will roll out in the next few months.

“The new graphics will be more contemporary, show up cleaner and more consistently on the shelf with the goal of making ourselves a little easier to find,”​ especially at a time when many in-store shoppers are spending less time browsing aisles, Hofmeister said.

As such, he explained, the new award-winning look amplifies the benefits to which consumers gravitate, including better calling out the fish in the product and highlighting if it is wild caught.

It also streamlines the logo so that Bumble Bee is more prominent – a move that meant retiring the company’s long-time mascot, Horatio the bee, “which caused a great deal of consternation with some folks,”​ Hofmeister said.

While the decision was not taken lightly, he said the brand name is what “speaks loudest to our consumers about our quality versus our mascot … so we retired the bee and are moving forward with our transformational journey.”

Part of that “transformational journey” also will include innovative new products that Hofmeister said will be “even more craveable than in the past,”​ as well as more convenient and more accessible for consumers.

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