Watties' 'Food in a Minute’ has been running for 16 years, and it hasn't changed much in that time. But it's just launched a national, multi-channel campaign to celebrate its new look and modified focus.
Food in a Minute was an in-house idea and in many ways it has been a forerunner to many of today's content marketing executions. And it's worked, with research last year showing around one third of Kiwi cooks used one of the recipes at least once a month and around half of those following the recipes to the letter, right down to the specific Wattie's products featured on the ingredients list.
Tim Skellern, Wattie’s general manager of marketing, wouldn't divulge how much it invests in the platform, but he admits it's "by far our biggest single piece of marketing activity" (according to Nielsen AIS figures, Heinz Wattie's spend $9.2 million on media in 2011, down slightly from $10 million in 2010).
He says it hasn't really framed Food in a Minute as shopper marketing in the past, but he says it's easy to forget how powerful it is because it connects above-the-line activity with the range of instore material and makes those ads work harder.
"It influences the whole consumer journey. We beat ourselves up about needing to get better at shopper marketing, but we already have this phenomenally successful platform."
For years, the recipes were fairly basic (a tin of spaghetti here, a tin of creamed corn there, Allyson Gofton showing viewers how to make a chicken casserole in the regular slot just before the 6pm news). But as culinary skills have improved, as the amount of food-related entertainment has increased and as the likes of APN's Foodhub, Goodman Fielder's Kiwi Faves and Countdown's Fresh Stories have been launched, the research also showed consumers thought it was time for an overhaul (the first ever Food in a Minute recipe was Tuscan Chicken and a more modern version of the dish is now included on the new www.foodinaminute.co.nz website, which was designed by Image Centre Group's creative services team).
According to Skellern, while practical recipes remain at the heart of the platform, the new format delivers much more, from the latest in food trends to up-to-date product information to advice for packing kids a healthy lunch to new how-to videos.
”We all want cost effective meal solutions that are simple and taste great. But we also want relevant information about the foods we’re eating and the new format of Food in a Minute recognises this. We’re also focusing on accessibility via our mobile app [designed by Infinity],” he says. “In a world where we’re bombarded with fancy recipes and celebrity food television, the new look Food in a Minute provides refreshing practicality and trust that is truly helpful when providing interesting mealtimes."
Hotfoot, a retail agency that's part of the Image Centre Group, was behind the new look and feel and account director Fiona Kerr says the the challenge was "finding a way to rise above the pack while still providing the fundamental core of meal delivery to address the problem of 'what's for dinner?".
It's also about creating more of a "value offering" and giving everyday New Zealanders a reason to spend a bit more on Wattie's products than they would on typically cheaper homebrand items.
The "more relevant Food in a Minute 2.0" launched on Sunday 9 June on TV1 (in The Food Truck) & TV2 and focused on provenance through its ‘Wattie’s NZ Grown Pick of the Crop’ campaign, which celebrates locally grown produce and taps into a growing global trend of consumers wanting to know where their food comes from.
"Rather than having the TVCs showing recipes about using a tin of tomatoes, it's talking about where those tomatoes come from," says Kerr.
Each campaign will run for four or five weeks.
Of course, it's technically not Food in a Minute anymore. It's now Food in either 15 or 30 seconds, but when we spoke with Skellern in the middle of last year after Running with Scissors took over the brand work from DDB, he said he slept well at night knowing it adds up to one minute per day. That evolution into smaller chunks was aimed at getting new viewers, and it has continued that approach with this relaunch.
BrandWorld now does the production and media buying for the format (its exclusive relationship with TVNZ gives it added negotiating power), and Skellern says it has made the "big, big decision" to shift the format to different times of the day, rather than keep the dedicated pre-news spot.
Not only is that one of the most expensive slots to buy, inspiration happens at different times of the day, so Skellern says it's trying to maximise reach and capture people's attention before and after dinner, or at times when they're most likely to be writing shopping lists.
He says there is some real strength to the idea of a constant slot. And it has certainly worked well for the company over the years. But the cost became prohibitive, "you talk to the same people every night" and social changes over the years mean there are fewer people sitting down in front of the TV at that time. And by being smarter with media placement, he says it can also mix up the length of each production.
"It will vary by communication. If it needs one minute to tell the story, we'll use one minute. If it doesn't, we can make it shorter," he says.
Because it's a platform, other sponsors are able to come on board. Goodman Fielder's Freyas brand has already signed on, and discussions are thought to be taking place with other potential partners.
The EDM, which has around 100,000 subscribers, has also been redesigned by Image Centre Group and Food in a Minute has also embraced social media with a new Facebook page, so Kerr says it will be aiming to up the engagement with more giveaway, promotions and special offers.