A.1. Steak Sauce had a problem– it was the clear category leader in a dying category. People were eating a lot less steak than they were before and with the growing momentum of foodie culture, even putting steak sauce on steak was a dying behavior. In light of this, A.1. decided to remove "steak" from its label, so the objective of the campaign was to encourage people to think of A.1. as a sauce for more than just steak and increase sales and consumption.
We knew that removing "steak" from the label was a breakup of epic proportions. It had been on the A.1. label for 60+ years. Setting A.1. free from its beefy ball-and-chain was huge, so we decided to tell the story of how this relationship changed with the new label. We created the "New Friend Requests" web video, a 2-minute short utilizing the Facebook interface to show how this relationship went from an exclusive love affair to a platonic friendship. The video features A.1. becoming friends with different foods, showing that the sauce goes well with more than just steak.
The conscious uncoupling of A.1. and steak in the "New Friend Requests" video helped with increases in sales and consumption and ignited real conversation around the brand. The video was so well received, a :30 teaser was cut for TV and aired in late August 2014, driving further traffic to the 2:00 video.
Steak and A.1. were synonymous in consumers' minds. To say A.1. Steak Sauce wasn't just for steak anymore was akin to saying clouds weren't just for the sky. So when A.1. decided to removed "steak" from its label, we knew we had a big job to do. We couldn't just expect consumers to notice the new label and think, "Oh, cool. Guess I'll listen to this bottle and try it on popcorn." We had to make a grand gesture.
To shine a direct spotlight on the epic break-up of A.1. and steak, we set the stage in the most public space for relationships possible: Facebook. "New Friend Requests" is a 2-minute short video we created to tell the story of A.1. and steak's relationship, from conception to implosion—and ultimately, resolution.
What made the "New Friend Requests" video so relevant is that it tapped into a real human truth by showing A.1. Sauce grow and evolve like so many of us today: in the spotlight of social media. The public emotional rollercoaster is one that feels all-too-familiar to many of us. There are happy times like setting a new relationship status and posting photos. There are sad times when things become "complicated" and the two try to hash it out over an instant message conversation–complete with breath-holding pauses, as the notorious "…" symbol for typing looms. At one point, steak even listens to a sappy playlist on Spotify. No truer love story has ever been told.
A.1. and steak's epic break-up story led to an increase in sales and consumption. While the category overall saw declines, A.1. saw its first jump in sales in over 5 years. The video received recognition in the Wall Street Journal, NPR World News, Examiner, Mashable, Harvard Business Review, Media Bistro, DigiDay and Market Watch.
But more important than sales and press, the video struck an emotional cord in people that most brands cannot pull off—let alone a condiment. This human connection made the video a viral sensation, with 1.3MM views and 2.1MM impressions. Not only did "New Friend Requests" do its job of unveiling the new A.1. Original Sauce label, it captivated audiences to a point where YouTube comments echoed the words "…the only ad I didn't skip and had to watch again."
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