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Johnsonville links sausages and social media

Campaign presents tips for creating multicultural dishes using Johnsonville products

Johnsonville is bringing new meaning to the term sausage links.

As part of a broader campaign celebrating its small-town roots, 70 years of tradition and an emphasis on quality ingredients, the sausage company has launched a “significant” social media initiative developed by Toronto agency Matchstick.

The social component includes Canadian Facebook, Twitterand Pinterest pages curated by Matchstick, as well as a new mobile-optimized website set to launch at the end of June. Johnsonville is also using paid media across both Facebook and Twitter.

Bob Fitzgerald, director of international business development for Johnsonville, said the campaign represents the company’s first “serious effort” in Canada. “We saw a huge opportunity, so in 2014 we made a strategic decision on a global level that Canada would be a growth market,” he said. “We have been investing accordingly.”

Fitzgerald said the company is seeing “tremendous engagement and energy” in the social space, which has led to a redeployment of some of its marketing dollars.

“More and more, consumers are coming into our franchise every day, and the message is being amplified,” he said. “Our guiding principle is that food – especially a foundational food like sausage – is love, and if we reach folks on the right frequency then that message will resonate.”

The campaign objective is to convert consumers who are already in the category, but aren’t eating the Johnsonville brand, he said.

All of the social media elements are constructed around four key themes: Johnsonville’s unique flavour; the backyard grilling experience, the big game at home and a multicultural feast.

Matchstick co-founder Patrick Thoburn said the agency leveraged some key insights when developing the social media content. Among the insights is the fact that Canadians are more confident in cooking perceived “ethnic” foods, primarily because of the country’s multicultural composition.

Nearly half (46%) of Torontonians, for example, were born outside of the country, a higher degree of multiculturalism than any other U.S. city. To a Canadian consumer, said Thoburn, Italian sausage is simply a flavour, while the average U.S. consumer might perceive it as an ethnic food.

“We’re doing a lot of visual recipe inspiration posts from around the world, a Twitter chat around family recipes that have been passed down from different cultures engagement with influencers who are Canadian, but who may have a food interest with a particular culture,” said Thoburn.

The social media feeds will present tips for creating multicultural cuisine, such as serving perogies with Johnsonville sausages or spicing up an everyday meal by adding chilli flakes, cumin and turmeric to Johnsonville products. The @JohnsonvilleCA Twitter account also features a #FoodieFriday post featuring recipe inspirations and barbeque tips.

The campaign is also focusing on the Stanley Cup playoffs with hockey-specific posts, and is introducing additional content around key Canadian events like Thanksgiving.

Thoburn described Johnsonville as a “social catalyst” that has associated itself with good times like backyard barbecues. “We felt there was a real opportunity for social media to play a role by highlighting that fun and good times vibe of the brand,” he said.

Johnsonville is also running a series of 15-second Facebook ads. Created by Milwaukee-basedCramer-Krasselt (and adapted for the Quebec market by Braque), the spots celebrate the company’s heritage and its products, along with some suggested uses for spicing up everyday dishes. All of the spots use the tagline “Johnsonville – great sausage comes from here.”

30-second TV spot, “Questions,” features images of Johnsonville, WI accompanied by a voiceover asking if it really matters that only 60 people live in the town or that Johnsonville began making its sausages in a small butcher shop in the town, insisting on the best ingredients since 1945. The answer: “Yeah, it matters a whole heckuva lot, actually.”

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