Aldi’s pasta sauce jab resulted in Leggo’s marketing overhaul, says Simplot marketing boss

The general manager of marketing for leading food manufacturer Simplot has spoken of the challenges faced by Leggo’s when an Aldi ad implied that all pasta sauces are the same.

Speaking at Mumbrella’s Retail Marketing Summit, Suzanne Harman explained how the 100-year-old Italian sauce brand changed its game plan when Aldi told consumers ‘not to waste their life in the sauce aisle’ and that they should make their decisions based on price.

“With Leggo’s, we’d reached a point where our senior leaders could see that if we didn’t do something we weren’t sure where the brand would be in five years. It was almost at a point where we thought: ‘do we stop investing in the brand?’” said Harman.

Rather than give up on the established brand, the decision was made to completely overhaul the marketing plan and create an entirely new angle based around one character, Nonna.

However, marketers shouldn’t ‘be afraid of challengers’, Suzanne Harman told the crowd at Mumbrella’s Retail Marketing Summit.

“[They] make you better and make you reinvent your brand, which is what we should be doing every day to make sure consumers love and trust and want to purchase our brands just as much as we do,” said Harman.

Suzanne Harman

Harman said presenting the idea, which she worked on with advertising company J. Walter Thompson, to the Simplot board was a risky one, but their trust in her vision got it over the line and resulted in a win for the company.

“A huge part of it is trust. I’ve been in this role now for five years so I’ve established myself enough with our board that when I put these ideas to them they trusted what I was doing.

“If you’re new to an organisation in any marketing role, if you don’t have that trust it is a really tough environment to be in. You’ve got to make sure you work hard enough to get that trust, or that respect, or do enough rigorous testing to give people confidence,” said Harman.

Harman said the campaign showed how important it was for marketers to remain nimble and take challenger brands on in the market. She went on to say that it’s important for marketers to maintain trust in the power of established brands and not fall into the trap of complacency in brand awareness.

“I think as marketers we have to be our brand’s biggest champions internally. We need to constantly be out there changing the conversation from advertising being a cost to being an investment in the brand.”


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