Challenge: Canned food sales have been on the decline for years. But consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the packaging materials in the products they purchase, which is actually a differentiating strength for steel food cans. This revealed an opportunity.

Objective: Elevate the perception of canned goods, create meaningful preference for the steel food can relative to other food packaging, and increase purchases of canned goods.

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How we solved it:

Assess: Building off the existing research our coalition partners had, we conducted virtual ethnographies to understand can-buyer behaviors and beliefs. We discovered three values cohorts—Extrinsic, Intrinsic and Anxious--and a single most compelling idea:

Steel cans hold more than food; they hold the things we believe in.

Prescribe: We developed a strategic communications construct to guide our work, which led to Canned Good™, a movement to spread the word about all the good things steel cans can do. Which is a lot of things.

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Validate: We tested messaging through a TURF analysis (Total Duplicated Reach and Frequency) to determine which framing of the single most compelling idea worked best and what reasons to believe it were most motivating. This work not only told us how much of the market we could expect to capture; it also helped us land on the right combination of proof points for the campaign: supreme recyclability, made from recycled steel, and ability to reduce food waste.

Plan: We created a highly effective, cross-channel campaign with hundreds of pieces of content, some featuring our animated character, “Spokescan,” who touted the benefits of steel food cans and showed up in video content everywhere from recycling centers to grocery store aisles.

Launch: The campaign included social and digital ads, owned channels, influencers and a complete website—with a portal for key partners to access campaign materials to push out organically. We also partnered with retailers during key promotions and activation periods.

Results: In Year 1, participating brands experienced a +22% to +52% increase in sales during the activation period versus the previous year. Building on that success, we refined and optimized the existing content based on testing, which led to even greater effectiveness in Year 2: +5% to +317% sales lift, depending on the store. In 2023, the campaign also saw a +19% increase in consumer mindset regarding favorability and perception of the steel food can.