Spam’s New Pitch: ‘Dish This!’

Hormel Foods has created a new recipe exchange site in hopes of getting Americans to eat more Spam. Dish This!, which went live today, offers consumers different ways to prepare the canned lunchmeat.

The recipe site, said Dan Goldman, senior product manager for Spam, stemmed from research which found that while occasional buyers of Spam are loyal fans, they bought the product infrequently because of not knowing how to prepare it. Thirty percent of U.S households have a can of Spam sitting in their pantries over a five-year period. That number can be much higher—both in frequency and the number of cans they purchase—if consumers had a forum for communicating their favorite Spam-inspired recipes and dishes, Goldman said.

Dish This! features “meal makeover” recipe galleries centered around three, “simple” ingredients that pair with Spam: eggs, bread and pasta (or, in this case, Mac ‘N Cheese). The effort, via PR and digital agencies Burson-Marsteller and Proof Digital Interactive, aims to help penny-pinched consumers break out of their “meal-time ruts,” while “bringing more recipes to our Spam fans,” Goldman said. “[It’s about giving consumers] something new [to add to] their palate,” he added.

The first makeover, which takes place this month, offers tips on how to spice up an egg dish using Spam, and the following makeover focuses on sandwiches.  A meal makeover using pasta will take place in July, and Hormel will award one grand prize winner with $1,000 in cash for the best recipe.

The new site is an extension of the brand’s “Break the monotony” campaign, which launched last June, targeting eat-at-home consumers. Ads, via BBDO, Minneapolis, showed a bunch of super-bored eggs sitting in a classroom—until a can of Spam breaks in and gets the party started.

Spam is also running an on-air promotion across 900 member stations nationwide belonging to the Win Win family of radio stations. The effort, which begins in April, involves lunch bag giveaways containing Spam merchandise, and Spam classic and less-sodium products. The goal is to show how Spam can be used to “enhance sandwiches to accompany your picnic,” Hormel said.

Spam belongs to a category of food products—namely shelf stable, affordable goods—that has held up particularly well in a recession. Sales of Spam canned lunchmeats were up 6.91 percent to $82.7 million in the 52 weeks ended Dec. 27, per IRI. (The data does not include Walmart sales.) The canned lunchmeat category, as a whole, is up 5.75 percent.

Hormel Foods has also spent more money advertising Spam. In 2007, the brand’s media expenditures were $1 million, compared to $13 million the following year. Through November of last year, it spent $10 million on measured media, excluding online, per Nielsen.