Media: Strategy Analysis - Using pester power as force for good

Brand: Ella's Kitchen Smoothie Fruits
Client: Paul Lindley, managing director, Ella's Kitchen
Brief: Build the Ella's Kitchen brand, while demonstrating TV can be
used to influence healthy eating habits
Target audience: Children
Budget: None

Media/creative/sales: Viacom Brand Solutions


Amid the furore over TV's role in the childhood obesity issue, Viacom Brand Solutions (the sales house for brands such as Nickelodeon, MTV and VH1) decided it wanted to prove that TV ads could be a force for good in influencing eating habits. It began a search for a health-related food and drink brand to partner with.

And it found the ideal opportunity with Ella's Kitchen. VBS approached the entrepreneur Paul Lindley, who has developed a range of organic fruit smoothies for children, aimed at competing with the likes of Del Monte. Lindley had spent a year on product development and was satisfied that he had a better proposition than competitors. All he had to do was convince supermarkets of the brand's potential to get distribution, and drive consumers to stores. Tricky, given that he had no funds for advertising.

VBS offered to fund the cost of Ella's Kitchen's ad launch and act as a full-service marketing partner. In return, VBS would take a share of revenue and gain access to sales data.

In Ella's Kitchen there was an opportunity to dispel the myth that TV was an exclusive advertising medium only available to a few multinational clients, and to build a brand from scratch.

As a direct result of VBS's promise, the brand achieved distribution in 338 Sainsbury's stores. The next step was to sell the brand to consumers.


VBS knew the best way to get mums to buy the product was to encourage children to ask for it. Therefore, any campaign needed to foster an emotional attachment to go with the benefits.

- TV: In February 2006, VBS unveiled three ads featuring Lindley's daughter Ella, which appeared exclusively on the Nickelodeon channels: Nickelodeon, NickToons, Nick Jr and Nick Jr 2, which are watched by 3.8 million children monthly. This focus on children differentiated Ella's Kitchen from its rivals, who used "gatekeeper" (mums) strategies.

The ads ran in programming that featured healthy eating messages, including Nicktrition, a series of 50 short-form programmes encouraging children to eat and drink healthily.


The can-do approach to this campaign hit the spot. The effect of advertising was immediate. At the year-end, the brand has achieved sales of 1.9 million units. As well as distribution in Sainsbury's stores nationwide, distribution has been secured in Tesco, Waitrose, Holland & Barrett and all health food wholesalers, and the brand has launched a range of baby food products that have instantly been adopted by the retailers.

In less than a year, Ella's Kitchen has established itself as a valuable brand in households with children, with the deployment of TV being the driver of this success. The campaign continues in 2007 with more brand extensions planned.

THE VERDICT - Pete Edwards partner, Edwards Groom Saunders

Given the quest for body purity so many of us undertake in January, how appropriate to comment on a campaign from a product so pure, untainted and wholesome. It's a particular pleasure to see a brand apparently achieve so much with so little resources at its disposal. So, how has it done it? How has it enjoyed so much success in such a short space of time?

It's the output of the finest agency brains, lots of ingenious media thinking, the multiple contact points, the engagement and involvement initiatives. I was looking forward to hearing about the glow-in-the-dark T-shirt strategies and the granny tipping contest on YouTube ...

But this can't be right. The information pack had none of the things that appear to form the bedrock of award-winning media campaigns. Whoever's done this planning hasn't managed to get any more than one medium on the plan, and TV at that - that outdated and underperforming medium that's patently had its day.

Which explains why I love this campaign. In the spirit of the January detox, it's wonderful to be served up a campaign that unambiguously challenges the excess we all too often see within media planning. Multimedia campaigns are successful. Interactivity does work; dialogue with consumers does build brand relationships in a powerful way. And we must constantly strive to learn and evaluate new techniques. But these are not the prerequisites for campaign success.

What makes a successful campaign is a strong product proposition, clearly articulated, a lucid and legitimate strategy, a well-defined target audience, aligned in terms of behaviour and scale to the commercial objectives, and a profound understanding of the chosen media, what message will work where and when - and an understanding of by how much.

This campaign seems to have all of that in spades. Any coincidence, then, that it comes from a media owner or is it simply a client and a planner with an over-riding passion for trying to keep it simple and effective?

It is de rigeur in this column to suggest what more could have been done. Lots, I'm sure. But less is more. Did it achieve what it set out to do? Yes, and some. Job done. Roll on more media detox, I feel wonderfully cleansed.

SCORE: 5 out of 5.