One of the marketing challenges for many consumer packaged foods today is breaking through the noise to connect with customers when there’s a high degree of competition in a category.
A good example is yogurt, with many different products, multiple SKUs and a lack of differentiation. That reality is essentially why General Mills has taken a unique approach to marketing its Liberté plain yogurts that focuses as much on what the brand believes in as what the brand is.
“We want our consumer to know what we stand for, what our brand values are, and we truly believe at Liberté that real food always tastes better. We exist to ignite people’s obsession for food and for taste,” said Jenny Chiasson, the Montreal-based marketing communications manager for Liberté.
The latest example is a nearly two-minute short film called “The Odessey” that debuted in July. The ad seems, at first, nothing like a yogurt ad. It starts with people travelling to exotic destinations such as Morocco and Nepal. They seem nervous and uncomfortable, far from home, until they bond with locals over food and dishes that include yogurt.
The intent is to tell a story that celebrates being openminded and the ways food can bring people together when culture and language barriers seem in the way. “The world opens up, to those who are open to it,” reads the copy on the screen at the end of the ad. “And it all starts with taste.”
“We are not pretending that there is Liberté yogurt in Morocco or Nepal, but went to visit countries and cultures that already have yogurt really present in their food culture,” said Chiaasson.
General Mills calls this strategy its “The Taste Liberté” marketing platform. It includes a special website featuring products, recipes, and explanations of tasting notes. “At Liberté, taste is infinite, and our obsession, infinite,” is the explanation line on the site.
This approach stretches back to 2016, when Liberté released another short film called “The Obsession” which more specifically celebrated foodie obsession for tastes. The approach has proven effective, which is why they kept going with The Odyssey, said Chiasson.
“When you are honest with your consumer and you present who you are… people get engaged with you,” she said. “Sometimes when you do not try to sell your product you are selling even more.”
While the new ad also seems particularly intended for foodies, the company has shorter versions that focus more on the food and recipes for the dishes shown in the ad to appeal to a wider audience.
Chiasson and a small team actually travelled to Morocco and Nepal to shoot the ad because it meant more authentic footage, which made for better storytelling.
“We actually got to live what we’re advertising. We got to taste everything and actually live what we were shooting,” she said.