Bakers Journal

Revitalizing bread’s reputation

June 24, 2013
By Stefanie Wallace

Bread is the food that people seem to love to hate right now.

Bread is the food that people seem to love to hate right now. With media, celebrities and books blaming bread, wheat and gluten for weight gain, diabetes and high blood sugar, bread has received a bad reputation over the last few years, and the baking industry has got the brunt of it.

Dempster’s used Canadian comedian Gerry Dee in a social media campaign to get people talking about the positive parts of bread – not the negatives. PHOTO COURTESY CANADA BREAD


In an attempt to bring some positive buzz back to bread, Dempster’s recently launched a social media campaign to get people talking. Canada Bread brought in Canadian comedian Gerry Dee and created two videos that live on YouTube and a social media hub ( ). The website features recipes, infographics, facts and more, and gives users a place to connect with Dempster’s and one another via different social networks. The first video launched in January, and featured Dee in a juice bar, adding slices of bread to customers’ drinks. The second  video launched in February, and showed Dee at a kids’ day camp, replacing the bread component of grilled cheese sandwiches with vegetables. Connie Morrison, the senior vice-president of marketing for Canada Bread, filled us in on the campaign and how bakers can do their part to promote bread’s value – nutritional and otherwise.


What sparked the idea of this campaign?

We took an overall look at the commercial bread category. Bread has had a bit of a bad decade with regards to negative perceptions around it. We wanted to give people something positive to talk about with bread.

We did some consumer research last year and discovered that consumers, Canadians specifically, love bread. Just like fruits and vegetables, it’s part of Canada’s food guide, which calls for six to eight servings of grains every day. If we can remind consumers about how good a choice bread is, and do it in a relevant and humorous way, we believe we can get people talking about bread in a positive way. A change in perceptions and attitudes ultimately leads to a change in behaviour. It gets people eating bread again and bringing people back into the bread category.

How did Gerry Dee become involved in the campaign?

We decided we needed to bring in an expert who could use humour to create a compelling message around bread that consumers would want to listen to and share with their friends and family. We identified Gerry Dee as a Canadian comedian who could come in and promote the message, whether it was to an unsuspecting public in a juice bar, or to moms and kids when he crashes the kids’ day camp. The idea was to create funny situations where we create an unlikely spot for bread.

“What are the different components of the campaign?

The two online videos featuring Gerry Dee live in YouTube and within a social hub we created that is connected to our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Anyone who views the videos sees a link to , which takes them into our hub where they can post on Dempster’s Facebook page, become a Facebook fan or share the video. We also posted an outtakes video with raw footage that didn’t make it into the videos, but is equally as funny, to entertain and engage people. We used some TV advertising and developed in-store POS material. The idea is that consumers could see an ad in their home, either on TV or online, and when they enter a store, they’ll see the same images reinforcing the message that bread is part of a good food group.

Even though television and POS advertising materials were developed, the campaign is mainly online. Why was a digital format chosen?

Bread overall is a fairly low-interest category. In order to engage with consumers, we felt we had to reach them in a way that would make them think about the product, because buying bread on a weekly shopping trip is such routine behaviour.

Canadians consume more online video than any other country in the world, so we knew that video was going to be an important component. We chose a digital format and decided to really aggressively use social media because we knew that’s where people were spending time. We felt that if consumers were going to engage in a dialogue about bread, it would be online. So if we could create a reason to talk about bread, and make it shareable, it would help enable the conversation to take place.

What audience is Dempster’s hoping to reach with the campaign?

Our target audience is primarily women. We know they spend a lot of time in social media. Women are the principal grocery shoppers and moms are often the gatekeepers in terms of the choices that come into the house. The combination of women and social media was particularly a bull’s-eye for us.

The videos have been viewed more than 1.6 million times and there has been tons of engagement on the Facebook and Twitter sites. What’s the trick to reaching your targeted audience on social media?

We’ve been able to really grow our numbers by engaging in a dialogue with consumers. People want to be entertained, they want to be engaged, and we felt like we were giving them information about bread in a humorous way that we felt would entertain them, not just educate them. And a lot of it was unbranded. We knew if we made [the videos] too overtly branded, people are going to click out, so the URL is at the end of the video and we have people viewing the full video. The power of entertaining consumers has huge value.

Can you offer advice to independent bakeries that are looking to bring more positive buzz to their bread?

Bread is good food. We have done so much research, and we know that consumers love bread. All they need is more reason to consume it. Reinforce the positives of your bread, whether it be the nutritional benefits, or the fact that you don’t use preservatives in it. Anything you can do to give consumers further reinforcement that it’s a good food choice is something positive.

And, because bread is such a habitual category in a cluttered environment, you do have to take risks to get noticed. You have to try to stop consumers in their tracks. Be a little bit provocative and communicate the benefits of the bread, not the negative press.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed.

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