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Rebranded Ben’s Original launches across Canada

Mars Food Canada introduces new packaging and a scholarship fund for under-represented communities

More than a year after announcing a name change, Mars Food Canada is debuting Ben’s Original across Canada. Formerly Uncle Ben’s, the 70-year-old brand was among several companies that faced pressure to address racial stereotypes.

The Ben’s Original packaging includes the new brand name featured on a familiar orange background and same navy blue font to help shoppers easily find the rice product they’re looking for.

“The key thing with any packaging change is you don’t want to create confusion with consumers,” says Eric Huston, market director, Mars Food Canada. “So, you see the same blue font and primarily orange packaging. We also cleaned up our architecture so our consumers are clear about flavour... in addition to changing the name and removing the Uncle Ben’s imagery.”

While the brand has a new look, for Mars the changes aren’t just surface level. “It’s not just a packaging change, but really a move to become a purpose-driven brand,” says Huston. With that, Ben’s Original set out to enhance equity and inclusion and developed its brand purpose: “to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table.”

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The brand has launched the Seat at the Table Fund in Canada that helps students pursue careers in the food industry through financial awards and educational opportunities. The scholarship program will be rolled out nationally across Canada in 2022 with the goal of helping advance diversity and representation across Canada’s culinary landscape.

The brand is partnering with four of the top culinary programs across Canada to provide $200,000 over two years to students who identify as Black, Indigenous or Persons of Colour to help them complete their education. According to Mars, the award is “designed to help students overcome inequitable financial barriers and positively affect the pathway to employment and advancement within the food industry.” The funds are available to culinary students at Vancouver Community College, Humber College, Centennial College and Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec. The Seat at the Table fund also runs in the U.S. and U.K.

The brand has also donated more than $250,000 worth of food to its long-term local partner, Caledon Community Services, located in Bolton, Ont. where Ben’s Original rice is made.

The Canadian launch of Ben’s Original is supported by a global marketing campaign, “Everybody’s Original.” The first commercials feature a collection of six real families who gather around the table for their favourite meals featuring Ben’s Original. The families include a Black nuclear family, a pair of friends, three roommates, a single-parent family, a family that uses sign language and a multi-generational Pakistani family. The idea is to show the unique recipes, traditions and interactions that make each of the real families original.

“It’s a celebration that everybody is an original, and I think that’s universal,” says Huston. “We want the spot to come through as incredibly authentic, which is why we use real consumers.”

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