Worthington Beefs Up Its Budget

$5 Mil. NSL Campaign Looks to ‘Normalize’ Meat Alternatives
CHICAGO–With an ad budget more than double last year’s, Worthington Foods is going after a larger share of the meat alternative category, putting an estimated $5 million print and TV campaign from Northlich Stolley LaWarre behind its Morningstar Farms line.
Two TV spots break the week of May 24 on national cable, with a smattering of network appearances, said David Schwantes, vice president of marketing and specialty sales at the Worthington, Ohio-based company. Print work breaks in July books, and targets a similar demographic, women aged 24-54, who typically make the decisions regarding groceries.
Neither Schwantes nor Rad Wakefield, vice president and management supervisor at NSL in Cincinnati, would reveal the specific tagline, but said it focuses on eating enjoyment. The previous tag was, “The change will do you good.”
Depending on how the category is defined, Morningstar Farms meat alternative products–which include the Harvest Burger, as well as corn dogs, “Chik Nuggets” and buffalo wings–are either tops in the market or No. 2 behind Gardenburger, Portland, Ore.
Gardenburger spends the most on advertising in the category, putting about $17 million behind its products last year, with plans this year approaching the same figure. Gardenburger’s agency is Rubin Postaer & Associates in Chicago.
NSL was awarded the Worthington account in January after a review that included Fahlgren, Columbus, Ohio, and Partners & Shevack (now part of The Wolf Group), New York.
Part of Worthington’s plan to counter its competitors’ spending by offering as a point of difference “the breadth of our products,” Schwantes said.
NSL’s ads also attempt to “normalize” the meatless products by showing them being served in regular situations and possibly suggesting some people may not even be able to tell the difference, Wakefield said.
NSL’s research showed that “there is this huge barrier to eating meatless products,” Wakefield said.
“Light users saw heavy users as living in a completely different world,” he said.
–with Stephanie Thompson