McCormick set out to help Americans struggling with new cooking challenges during the COVID pandemic, reinforcing its brand positioning: “It’s Gonna Be Great.”
A trusted partner in the kitchen for generations of Americans, McCormick helps to make every birthday, every holiday, every dinner, special. When the COVID pandemic began, and many families suddenly struggled with cooking every meal at home, McCormick decided to use its extensive cooking and flavor expertise to teach new skills and inspire with new recipes.
While the goal of the program was straightforward, the actual execution would initially prove challenging. COVID shut down all studio content production at the beginning of the pandemic, meaning a previously simple content shoot now proved almost impossible. Chefs, food stylists and photographers were quarantining at home.
Further, McCormick needed to understand just what millions of Americans needed help making, so that the content itself could be as tailored to the audience’s needs as possible.
This led McCormick to a two-pronged strategy: dial up the search insights and social listening, while dialing down the production. McCormick tasked the social, CRM and search insights teams to dig into target audience needs, even asking its Facebook, Instagram and CRM community what type of cooking questions they needed answered. This led to a stream of insights and data that the culinary and content teams used to create topics featured in the content series. It was evident that what people wanted to cook or help with week to week, changed constantly – from sourdough bread to whipped coffee and grilled salmon.
For the content series itself, McCormick focused on Instagram Stories as a distribution platform, given its acceptance as a channel featuring content with less production value. The short-form episodic nature of the stories platform also leant itself nicely to showcasing recipe steps.
Finally, McCormick identified hosts for the stories within the in-house culinary and content teams, landing on three chefs and one food stylist. These hosts would film themselves at home, with a phone camera and a tripod, and send the footage to the social team to add text overlays, gifs and other assets to make the content as engaging as possible.
Naming it “Cook with Us” McCormick launched this new IG content series within a week of the first lockdown in March. In just the first month, topics ranged from Crispy Baked Falafels to Coconut Banana Bread.
The program was an instant success and drove meteoric reach and engagement, attracting partners like Tasty, Subway, TGI Fridays, Pyrex and Noodles & Co. With 89 organic posts, McCormick was able to garner more than 6.9MM impressions. By talent filming themselves, McCormick was able to save more than $200,000 in production costs. It was so succesful that McCormick continues to feature it as part of its ongoing social media strategy.
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