TBWA\C\D Breaks First Work for Sara Lee

LOS ANGELES TBWA\Chiat\Day’s first work for Sara Lee since adding the business in May, a campaign themed the “Joy of eating,” attempts to “disrupt the category by breaking from ‘functional’ advertising of food,” contemporizing a venerable brand while keeping it friendly, said Patrick O’Neill, creative director.

Using the folk tune “Happy Happy Joy Joy,” one spot, which broke last week, opens on ordinary folks preparing to enjoy Sara Lee treats and progresses through rhythmic cuts to show the food products, half-eaten.

“We started with the simplest, happiest song that has lyrics,” said O’Neill, who knew the approach would succeed during a Sara Lee sales meeting when 500 people began singing the song as the work was shown.

The clean look of the white background (a TBWA\C\D visual signature, employed for other clients such as Apple Computer), will eventually make its way to joyofeating.com, cinema advertising, outdoor and wild postings, then to the Sara Lee packages themselves, according to O’Neill.

“It was bright, simple, happy and human [against white],” O’Neill said. “Putting people against red is kind of angry. We stripped down the idea to make it as accessible as possible to a wide range of people. We used a wide range of ethnicities and expressive faces.”

Likewise, showing the half-eaten food departed from typical tabletop photography. “A bigger insight led us to the mid-bite portrait,” O’Neil said. “There was no emotion in food advertising. It was all about how many grams of fat and how fast you can make it—all function, speed and efficiency. Sara Lee food is real, and it looks the same it did 100 years ago. So we thought, ‘Let’s get back into the joy of eating.’ “

Peter Reiner, a vice president at Sara Lee, characterized “Joy of eating” as a “big idea that allows us to really talk to consumers—it could be the joy of deli, the joy of sharing. This is only the first spot in a branded portfolio that can connect to consumers on many levels.”

He added, “This communications platform is so simple and straightforward it can lift into other media—on trucks, in-store. I don’t think I’ve seen a campaign that links so well from medium to medium.”

Chicago-based Sara Lee spent $180 million advertising last year and more than $100 million through June 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

TBWA\C\D in Playa del Rey, Calif., added Sara Lee’s namesake food brands and its Hillshire Farm unit this year following separate reviews [Adweek Online, Aug.15].