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From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Cook Like A Mother

Silver Honor in Food & Beverage

Audience Honor in Rebrand Campaign, Food & Beverage


In recent years, RAGÚ had struggled to regain its lead in the face of ever-growing competition and softening brand attributes. We were challenged with: 

  1. Penetration declines lost the brand its leadership: RAGÚ had slowly experienced dollar share decline due to penetration declines. In 2018, RAGÚ lose the #1 spot in mass sauces. 

  1. Unable to connect to new consumer expectations: YoY growth in the pasta sauce category for the past few years were driven primarily by more premium players, perceived as more authentic, higher quality, and flavorful. Unfortunately, with no perceived positive attributes beyond being a taste kids enjoy, RAGÚ found itself going in the opposite direction. 

  1. As a legacy brand, people had already made up their minds: In addition to keeping loyal consumers, we also needed to convince a new set of consumers to try the brand. Before the start of our new campaign, attracting new HHP had been a struggle due to brand perceptions of being inauthentic, kid-friendly.  


Our campaign objectives were:  

  1. Reverse sales declines to make progress on regaining #1 mass pasta sauce title. 

  1. Increase top of mind awareness 

  1. Increase consideration 

  1. Grow positive consumer perceptions of the brand 

Strategy and Execution

Starting in March 2020 we shared a new reality: cooking every meal for ourselves and our families. A year in, analysis revealed fatigue for the everyday cooks who faced the chore of creating quick, affordable, and good-tasting meals 3x/day.  

Misperceptions meant RAGÚ wasn’t viewed as a solution.  

So we turned to the brand’s origin, set in another challenging time, the Great Depression. There, we found the mother of our sauces – the brand’s founder – who brought RAGÚ to life when she jarred her family’s sauce recipe during the Depression, providing homemade meals to many. 

Inspired by her vision and resiliency in the face of unimaginable times, we saw modern-day mothers rising to the occasion with similar strength during Covid, where “like a mother” had become shorthand for doing something with fervor, passion, determination. Mothers figure it out. Mothers make it happen.  

Just like the mother of RAGÚ did. Just like our audience – mothers and others – need to do. 

OUR INSIGHT: While RAGÚ’s heritage of being created by an Italian mother lost its luster, the idea of doing anything “like a mother” carried uncontested swagger.  


STRATEGY: Reenergize and rally tired home cooks by flipping RAGÚ’s "mother" equity on its head 


RAGÚ challenged people to Cook Like a Mother (CLAM) — with unflappable swagger and no-sweat confidence — and in doing so, turned a forgotten piece of the brand’s story into an energizing rallying cry for tired cooks everywhere. Regardless of gender. Regardless of skill set.  

In addition to changing perceptions, we needed to spur behavior change at meal time and moment of purchase. That’s why we reimagined RAGÚ’s recipe approach with a new, CLAM-inspired design and unexpected dishes like Gameday Quesadillas and Italian Market Shakshuka, and created a cross-channel strategy to reinvigorate RAGÚ’s retail presence drive adoption at-shelf.  

To make this campaign stand out, we avoided a sappy, Hallmark-style ode, pumped up the provocation, and broadened our relevance:  

  1. It’s an attitude and vibe: doing anything “like a mother” connotes the badass swagger and get-it-done-no-matter-what attitude moms bring into everything they do 

  1. The spirit of our “mother” extends beyond genetics: anyone can cook like a RAGÚ mother (men, women, children) 

  1. Family is chosen and is who you care about enough to feed 

  1. The line “Cook Like a Mother” has to make the implication obvious… without offending 


In its first few months, Cook Like a Mother has already had a big impact on the RAGU brand and business.  


From a business standpoint, we set out to reverse the brand’s sales declines and make progress on regaining our #1 share in mass pasta sauce, and have already experienced sales up +2% vs previous 6 months before campaign launch. We managed to make that dent during a time when success was somewhat hampered due to a glass jar supply shortage and a lack of available production capacity, which together limited jars and SKUs on shelf. 


From a marketing standpoint the campaign is performing on all key objectives: 


  1. We wanted to increase unaided awareness and grow top-of-mind awareness, and as of June 2022 we saw a +3pt increase in unaided awareness since start of campaigns. First mentions also increased, ranging from +2% to +5% lifts, and in the first few months of the campaign Unaided Brand Awareness increased from 55% to 58% and top-of-mind awareness has reached as high as 35%. 


  1. We set out to increase consideration of the brand, and as of June 2022 we saw a +9 pt lift in consideration, moving it from 52% to 61%.  


  1. We wanted to grow positive consumer perception of the RAGU brand and as of June 2022 we saw positive increases across all key attributes: “brand I trust” increased +14pts, “tastes delicious” increased +4pts, and “is an excellent quality sauce” increased +4pts. 


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Digitas, RAGU


Entry Credits