Fonterra Brands calls on the power of Annabel Langbein—and the power of the table—to get Kiwis cooking

The holy grail of content marketing is to create a win-win-win: something that’s good for the consumers, good for the brand and good for the ambassadors/publishers. And Fonterra Brands, Annabel Langbein and Milk reckon they’ve done just that with a new content-led campaign called ‘We Are What We Eat’, which aims to provide Kiwis with the tools to cook more often and more simply—and, at the same time, promote the surprisingly large benefits of getting the family around the table. 

Ben Reid, the owner/creative director of (the appropriately named) Milk, says it has been thinking about the idea for the past two years or so and did a few test campaigns last Christmas to see if there was an appetite, tsk tsk, for this kind of content. There was, so it worked with Fonterra to develop an “inspiration platform that had a bigger social side to it and was about families rather than just about food”.  

Hyundai is one brand that has been trying to get busy Kiwis to change their priorities and therefore position itself as a family friendly brand, most notably through its Family Time Project and, more recently, through its great ‘Get Lost’ ad, which was unfairly handed the wooden spoon at the Fair Go Ad Awards this week. And Reid says there’s a similar goal with this campaign, which advocates for “real food rather than processed food” and was launched a couple of weeks ago. 

“Families are horrendously busy trying to get everything done. So we’re really interested in helping people,” he says. “Of course there’s a commercial agenda. There has to be for something like this. But it’s been a really rewarding campaign.” 

Successful content marketing often requires the brand to stand back and do the soft sell—and, as the success of Resene’s Habitat shows, it often works well for demand generation, whereas advertising works well for demand fulfilment. And Reid says it needed to offer genuine advice and deliver real value, not just shove products down people’s throats.

He says it’s been an interesting process understanding how you can influence people—in a positive way. And in the food sector, Annabel Langbein has become one of the most influential.

“Having an ambassador like Annabel was huge because she’s got mass appeal.”

As Damien Venuto wrote in the just released issue of NZ Marketing, there needs to be a degree of authenticity for influencer marketing to work, with brands advised to give up some of the control and bask in the glow. And Annabel Langbein’s general manager Christine Arden says the campaign is something Langbein felt passionate about and was proud to champion. 

“People’s need for ‘fast food’ and good food doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive,” she says.

  • Check out an interview with Langbein about her clever media strategy here.

One of the common misperceptions about content marketing is that if you build it they will come. But there’s so much content now on offer—and so many social networks trying to make hay from their audiences—that it generally needs to be promoted. While the campaign is digitally-led, he says it does link strongly with point of sale, something that has been proven to work effectively with brand platforms such as Lion’s The Mix and Made to Match. It is also being pushed out across the social networks of Fonterra, Langbein and some of the major retailers and he says there is some paid for social activity as well (it worked with Fonterra’s media agency Mediacom and Contagion for the social media elements). 

While the retailers are supporting the campaign, he says they’re not commercial partners. But it’s in their interest to help push it, both because Fonterra Brands is such a big supplier and because “they are battling against fast food” and anything that promotes more cooking is good for them (New World has shared the intro video and some of the recipes on its Facebook page, and Countdown is running banners on its website and the recipes are integrated into its online shopping platform). 

He says the agency, which has been around for 11 years, has eight staff and focuses on design and brand, has put a lot of effort into making high quality video content. And it has been testing different areas and finding out what type of content consumers are most interested in. He wouldn’t give any specifics about the success of the campaign so far, but he says it is already reaching hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders with the videos and has gained over 3,400 fans on Facebook (earlier this year, Fonterra dabbled successfully in content marketing with the Kapiti Cheese Society alongside Dish magazine). 

He says it is looking at taking the platform further if the first phase of the campaign works well. And one of the biggest things he believes it can do is to push the power of the table. In the US—and likely in New Zealand—the numbers are slightly concerning, with an article in The Atlantic showing “one in four Americans eating at least one fast food meal every single day, and the majority of American families report eating a single meal together less than five days a week”. There is a heap of data showing kids who don’t eat with their families regularly are more likely to be obese, truant and generally less successful, so while it might seem like a small thing, as the world of behavioural science show, small things can often have big impacts. 

Reid says you can look at this kind of campaign cynically; as a subtle way to shift more dairy products. “But from our perspective, from Fonterra’s perspective and from Annabel’s perspective, we do want to help.”


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