Uncle Ben's gets kids in the kitchen

Rice brand partners with MasterChef Junior to teach kids cooking skills

A new campaign from Uncle Ben’s aims to get more kids cooking.

The 12-week effort for the Mars-owned brand centres around GetKidsCooking.ca, which features weekly videos created by BBDO, starring MasterChef Junior season two winner Logan Guleff. The budding chef provides tips on kitchen basics like cooking rice, working with different vegetables or meats, and safety habits.

At the end of each video, Guleff issues a challenge to families to submit photos of a dish they cooked using specified ingredients, such as rice and sweet potatoes. Three grand prize winners will each receive a $10,000 RESP at the end of the campaign. The site also features recipes created by registered dietitian Cara Rosenbloom.

The campaign is part of a global platform for Uncle Ben’s, called Ben’s Beginners, which launched in Canada and the U.S. in 2012. It ties into Mars’ overall platform, “better food today, better world tomorrow,” said Kyle Lyons, marketing director at Mars Canada.

“We had this really aspirational belief that we wanted to integrate Uncle Ben’s into the cultural conversation about food and that Uncle Ben’s rice can be an easy first step towards a life of better meals,” said Lyons.

“We wanted to activate the brand message to make it way more tangible for consumers,” added Lyons. “One of the best ways to do that is to talk about the influence that parents have around kids’ eating habits and the power of cooking with kids.”

A survey commissioned by Mars found while 77% of Canadian families eat home-cooked dinners five or more nights a week, only 12% let their kids help cook those meals. At the same time, 90% of parents believe teaching kids to cook is an important part of helping them live healthier lives.

“Time was probably consumers’ number-one answer as to why they don’t involve their kids, even though they recognize that it’s important,” said Lyons. “So, we had to make sure that the recipes were easy for parents and kids, but also enjoyable.”

The campaign is being supported by a TV spot that demonstrates the influence parents have on their kids’ eating habits and drives viewers to the microsite. The spot marks the first time Ben’s Beginners has been supported with national television advertising in Canada.

The campaign also involves retail activations led by Match Marketing Group, digital banners, Facebook ads, public relations and social media support on YouTube and Facebook.

Previous efforts focused only on microsites, flyer advertising and in-store displays, said Lyons. “Even though it was a very purposeful marketing message, still tended to be very tactical,” he said. “We have a much broader scope this year, with almost every element of the communication and path to purchase covered off.”

This article first appeared on MarketingMag.ca

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