Annie's, the packaged food maker known for kid favorites such as organic macaroni and cheese, is out with its first TV campaign, which gives a brief history lesson on the rise of organic foods.
"Thirty years ago, kids ate what was yummy and moms didn't say no," a voiceover says as animated macaroni, lollipops, cookies and other foods with stick-figure limbs play outside in a 30-second spot.
The scene gets a bit darker after parents wonder what's in the foods, leading them to abandon products with "fake flavors and dyes." That's when Annie's comes along with versions of foods they feel better about serving. The animation pros at Psyop were behind the production.
It's a whimsical look at the history of Annie's, which began in 1989 with macaroni and cheese, sold in the early days out of the back of co-founder Annie Withey's car. Annie's expanded with products such as bunny-shaped graham and cheddar snacks and more recently, cereal, yogurt and popcorn. Mac and cheese became the brand's first organic product in 1998 and it's the product most people still think of when they think of the brand, according to Dan Stangler, Annie's business unit director.
The new campaign comes a year after the debut of Annie's then-largest campaign to date, a digital "Organic for Everybunny" push that included real bunnies in grocery stores. Now that the brand is in more categories and is attracting a more diverse audience it felt the time was right to head to TV.
From last summer to this summer, almost 9 million new households bought Annie's products, increasing the brand's household penetration to 20%, Stangler said, citing Nielsen panel data.
The spot begins airing this week, coincidentally days after its longtime president, John Foraker, said he is stepping down to dive into a different organic food startup. Carla Vernon, an executive at General Mills Inc., which bought Annie's in 2014, will now lead the team.
The 15- and 30-second TV spots from General Mills internal agency The Bellshop are set to run from now through mid-October, with the kickoff timed to coincide with the back-to-school season "and to connect with new families that are interested in organic," Stangler said.
Along with TV, the campaign includes digital and paid social, as well as a digital storybook showcasing the food characters. Mac and cheese, as well as yogurt and cereal -- two lines where Annie's gained from the help of its parent company -- are some of the products that will be featured.