Kerker positions the hometown of Johnsonville as a tight-knit community that cares deeply about its sausage in its first brand campaign for the company.
The campaign, which is scheduled to break on national television in early May, will introduce several characters who embody the spirit of the brand, said Chris Preston, creative director of the Minneapolis agency.
"We really wanted to bring the name on the package to life and make it mean something," Preston said. "We wanted to give [the company] a sense of place and personality."
The idea behind the campaign was born as agency executives got to know the pride the community takes in its hometown industry, Preston said.
"This all started as we saw plumes of blue smoke coming from the backyards," he said. "There's such a cult of grilling and sausage around this place."
Research later backed up the observation that consumers liked the idea of their sausages coming from a small community company rather than a large conglomerate, Preston said.
The first spot in the campaign showcases Johnsonville's hallmark bratwurst. In the commercial, a fire truck races to a house billowing smoke. But the firemen only find a family grilling Johnsonville brats. The men wind up staying with the family for dinner. The spot closes with the line, "Al ways welcome."
"It's really kind of a nice sum mation of the spot," said Preston, though he stopped short of calling the line a tag.
The commercial is currently running in several local markets and will be expanded into a national rotation on May 6.
Johnsonville was intentionally positioned to appear as Anytown, U.S.A., Preston said. "It embodies the true place of Johnsonville, but when you're in California it doesn't feel that far removed," he said.
Future commercials, scheduled to run after the summer grilling season, will highlight John son ville's Italian and breakfast sau sages, said Christine Fruechte, Kerker's account management director.
Fruechte said future work will follow the tone set in the first commercial. "There will be a series of stories that will play off this notion of sausage being social and this town caring deeply about its sausage."