ConAgra Foods debuted a fresh campaign this week touting the Manwich as a sloppy joe sauce with a full serving of vegetables. The move comes as consumers turn to iconic brands and shelf stable goods in a recession.
The new campaign, by the San Francisco office of Omnicom agency DDB, marks a shift from the brand’s previous advertising—which focused on “fun family mealtimes”—to one of “nutritional value,” the company said.
As a result, ads for Manwich, a ConAgra-owned product sold under the Hunt’s brand, now carry the tagline, “Manwich. Meat Your Vegetables.” One spot, now running, shows a girl dressed up as a “Manwich” in a school play trying to fit in with the neighbors from “Farmer John’s Vegetable Patch.” “Hey, you’re supposed to be a vegetable,” a child dressed in a corn costume taunts. “There’s a full serving of vegetables in every Manwich,” the girl responds.
ConAgra joins a list of many marketers—Del Monte Foods and Unilever included—that have been promoting the affordability of their shelf stable brands. In April, Del Monte began advertising its canned fruits and vegetables for the first time in 10 years. Ads for Unilever’s Ragu ask consumers to “see how you can eat well for less” with a sauce that contains a “full serving of veggies” and “for less than $2 a serving.”
Manwich was first introduced in 1969, and ads in the 1970s promoted its heartiness with slogans like, “A sandwich is a sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal.” But over time, that message lost its appeal as consumers became more health conscious, ConAgra said.
“Right now, moms are getting back into the dinner routine following a busy summer. Our focus group research showed that moms had misconceptions about Manwich’s nutritional value," said the company’s vp and general manager Michael Locascio. "We think these new ads will give moms another reason to love Manwich—the fact that it has a full serving of vegetables in each serving.”
The effort also marks the first new creative campaign for Manwich in three years. Since 2006, the brand has been running mostly 15-second spots. New, 30-second ads are now appearing on cable networks like USA, Lifetime and TLC.
ConAgra spent $9.4 million advertising Manwich last year, and $3.7 million through June of this year, excluding b2b spending, per Nielsen.