Cargill Touts Truvia as ‘Natural’ Sweetener

As Coca-Cola readies the launch of Stevia in three of its Odwalla juices this week, its partner in the zero-calorie sweetener deal, Cargill, has kicked off an ad campaign of its own. Called “Honestly Sweet,” the effort plays up Cargill’s naturally derived tabletop sweetener, Truvia.

One spot, “Leaf,” opens with a close-up of the Stevia plant and the introduction: “Your sweet tooth loves this little green leaf. It just doesn’t know it yet.” The spot then goes on to show the sweetener’s various uses: On fruit, in coffee and in iced tea. Voiceover concludes: “A zero-calorie indulgence from a miracle of nature, not chemistry. How utterly delicious.”

Other elements of the campaign, via Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, include print, online and a heavy focus on in-store marketing and sampling. Ads will run in the January issues of Self, Health and O, The Oprah Magazine. Universal McCann handles media buying duties. The cost of the campaign is approximately $20 million, per Truvia.

Food provider Cargill, Wayzata, Minn., spent $24 million in U.S. measured media last year, excluding online, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The “Honesty Sweet” campaign, however, marks the first big consumer launch for the company.

Zanna McFerson, Cargill health and nutrition business director, said the campaign is a way for Cargill to get the word out about the new sweetener as Coke looks to do the same on the noncarbonated beverage front. Coke’s rival, Pepsi, is waiting for the go-ahead from the FDA to launch a no-calorie sweetener.

Whole Earth Sweetener, which worked with Pepsi on the sweetener’s development, is following the lead of its partner before debuting any new work. Whole Earth Sweetener is already selling its version of the sweetener, PureVia, in retail stores.

With a focus on “natural” and “sweet,” Truvia targets health-conscious moms who do a lot of grocery shopping. “People want to know what they put in their bodies and are more concerned with nutrition these days,” McFerson said.

“Natural is the Holy Grail for beverage marketers, who have seen artificial sweeteners maligned, perhaps unfairly,” said Gerry Khermouch, editor of Beverage Business Insights, West Nyack, N.Y.

Cargill seems to have recycled some of the lessons learned from marketing Erithrytol as a naturally derived sugar cane sweetener. (The product foundered as a result of “poor branding”— the side effects associated with the ingredient and the complexity of its name, per Khermouch.) The Truvia brand, however, doesn’t carry those associations, Khermouch said, “[It] has an appealing ring to it and the campaign seems well devised to play on the guilt-relieving natural premise of the brand.”