Reward after the Montag storm: Ogilvy wins Sealord account, unveils new brand positioning

Ogilvy & Mather has been appointed the lead agency for the trans-Tasman account for Sealord, following a period of working with the brand on a project basis. And to coincide with this announcement, the brand has now released a new brand platform called ‘Savour the little wins’.


The new positioning will replace the ‘We live for the Sea’  branding that has been used by the brand over the last few years, with Sealord’s head of marketing and innovation Sarah Sandoval saying that the aim is to put focus on telling the stories related to company’s products and consumers.  

 “It’s no secret our lives are busy and complicated, but research told us that people are putting undue pressure on themselves to live up to a set of unrealistic expectations,” says Sandoval. “The brand’s new campaign sets out to relieve some of these pressures by reminding the target audience that they should focus on the ‘little wins’ that make life big, and give themselves a break. At the heart of it, Sealord is about making seafood simple for consumers. We believe all Sealord’s products offer a little win, either through simplicity and the ease of preparation or the quality, the nutritional benefits or the simple fact that they deliver the most exceptional taste.”

The first product to be showcased through the new brand platform is Sealord’s Tuna Pockets, and the series of spots, which were shot by The Sweet Shop, shows actors depicting a series of sences “inspired by real-life scenarios”.

“We uncovered some fresh talent who have remained very much themselves in the frame, and as a result we have something that is both charming and authentic,” says Sweet Shop director Louis Sutherland. “We had a bit too much fun on set at times and there were a lot of curve balls thrown, but in the end all the best moments made the cut.”

Ogilvy and The Sweet Shop have also worked together to produce a series of spots for the Australian market. And though similar to the ones produced on this side of the ditch, they feature Australian actors playing out scenes more familiar to our neighbours across the ditch.


Over the last three years, Sealord’s ad spend in the Kiwi market has fluctuated between $2.8 million and $4.3 million, making the account reasonably substantial win for the agency—and the profitability of the account looks likely to continue given that Ogilvy will be working on two fronts.

Ogilvy’s executive director Paul Manning says that the advertising challenge for the Kiwi part of the account differs quite substantially from the Australian one, given that the two arms of the business are at very different stages.

“Sealord is a market leader here, so it’s about maintaining its brand share,” says Manning. “But Australia is a bit different, and we’ll be focusing on growing market share there.”

Although Ogilvy has now officially been announced as the account holder, the agency has been working on the account since last year October when Sealord released the ad featuring Heidi Montag.

“O&M didn’t actually take over as lead agency at the point of the Frozen (Heidi) campaign,” explains Manning. “Our shopper marketing and activation agency, Geometry, had worked with Sealord for about a year and a half at that stage – so it was a project we took on towards the end of Sealord’s relationship with their previous agency [Saatchi & Saatchi]. The decision to appoint Ogilvy as lead agency came several months later after we developed a new brand strategy and creative platform that gave way to the awesome work we’ve just launched.”          

The appearance of Montag in the ad led to social media backlash, with many customers leveling criticism at the brand for choosing the reality star. In response to the outrage, Ogilvy developed and released a follow-on ad that featured actual Kiwis tasting the meals.    

This follow-on campaign was well-received, and Sealord was applauded for listening to the demands of its customers.  

“It was handled really well,” says Manning. “The campaign was a commercial success. It exceeded all sales targets for the range and brand love for Sealord (as measured through regular, independent brand tracking research) reached it’s highest point ever.” 

In fact, the situation was handled so well that social media conspiracies started floating around that Sealord and Ogilvy had orchestrated the whole event from the Montag ad. 

Responding to questions on these more colourful theories, Sealord media contact Alison Sykora previously told StopPress: “You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, aren’t you?”

One thing that is clear is that these efforts is that they did get the brand noticed and, while not necessarily applicable to all circumstances, it was another example of how even bad publicity can be effective at driving brand awareness.    


Client –Sealord General
Manager Consumer NZ – Stuart Yorston 
Head of Marketing & Innovation – Sarah Sandoval
Marketing Manager Frozen NZ – Melissa Butler Senior
Brand Manager Ambient NZ – Craig Harrison

Agency –Ogilvy & Mather  New Zealand
Executive Director – Paul Manning
Planning Director – Debby Giness
Senior Art Director – Billy McQueen
Senior Writer – Karl Fleet
Senior Account Director – Tracy Smytheman
Senior Account Manager – Leon Cui
Head of TV/Agency Producer – Amanda Kabel

Production company – The Sweet Shop
Director – Louis Sutherland
Executive producer – Fiona King
Producer –Anna Stuart
DOP – Marty Williams
Editor – Hamish Waterhouse
Grade – Jon Baxter (Perceptual Engineering)
Music/Composer – Conrad Wedde

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