Bringing Frozen Food Back On The Table

By Isabelle Hettel
Agency: Publicis Switzerland, Zurich
Client: Nestle Findus
Category: 2009

Nestlé Findus Bringing frozen food back on the table

What does deep frozen food mean to you? Most say it’s an easy way to have dinner and watch TV at the same time. But eating the easy way also creates guilt. Only a frozen food junkie can ignore it. The guilt comes from what people have thought for years and years: Frozen food is industrial, not fresh and therefore simply not good for you. It contains too many cals, carbs, fat, sugar, salt, preservatives, flavor enhancers and not enough vitamins, nutrition and all the other healthy stuff.

Despite the guilt, frozen food makes life much easier. You can store it and it will not perish; unless you have the time to go to the market each day and prepare your meal from scratch. Didn’t you ever discover new life forms in your fridge? Frozen food is a great solution and is one of the best improvements supermarkets have brought to our lives. But the TV-dinner-guilt stays.

If you want to forget about the guilt, why not go to the chilled food range? Everything is ready made, refrigerated (but not frozen) and is somehow an accepted part of a modern lifestyle. It’s like looking into the fridge of an excellent housewife: Everything is freshly prepared, like homemade, healthy, nicely decorated and probably good for you. No wonder consumers perceive it as being the best of both worlds: fresh and convenient.

While the chilled food range has grown and grown in the last years and it became part of everyday life, deep frozen food got lost in the dark and cold depths of our freezers as a “just-in-case” option.

Nestlé’s task for us: Offering freshness AND convenience is going to be crucial in the future for all food industries. So we had to bring Nestlé’s deep frozen food brand Findus out of the dark and back on the table. Today Findus is one of the most popular frozen food brands in Switzerland. It offers ready-to-serve-meals (like Lasagna, Fish Bordelaise, Asian food etc.) or prepared vegetables (peas, carrots, beans, spinach etc.). But in the last few years Findus has struggled massively with the rise of chilled food brands. If a growing number of health conscious consumers want fresh and convenient food, how can we give it to them? The challenge was to turn frozen storage food into a fresh everyday meal. What is the fresh side of a deep frozen range full of image problems?

Objectives: Change the perception of Nestlé’s frozen food brand Findus: 1. Findus needs to cut losses against the chilled food range and be more competitive 2. Findus should become synonymous with freshness and naturalness 3. Findus needs to return to the consumer’s mind

The digging begins Like all planners; we like to dig, dig, and dig. Even in the dark cold depth of a freezer.

What we knew was that deep freezing is a conserving method, like others. What we did not know was that deep freezing is the gentlest conserving method to keep food fresh; without destroying vitamins and nutritives – even after months. It’s even proven by science!

Biologist Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956) and even Alexander the Great helped us to find out. When he was on his campaign against the Persians, Alexander the Great kept his wine and fruits fresh in holes filled up with ice. 2’200 years later Birdseye was on an expedition to Labrador, where he noticed that the Inuit go fishing at -51°F / -46°C. As this was really, really cold, the fish froze the moment it left the water. When the Inuit prepared the fish several days later, it tasted as if it was fresh.

Freezing means keeping food fresh especially compared to other conserving methods. Fruits and vegetables begin to loose their nutritive values the moment they are harvested – and decomposing continues even faster when you prepare them. Chilled food seems to look fresh and natural, but in fact all the healthy content is already lost. The benefit of freezing: it stops the loss of nutritives immediately and keeps them inside.

So I’ve got everything together to brief the creative team: Consumer Insight: What I eat has to be fresh and natural. But I don’t want to cook.

Brand Insight: Only a good meal is worth preserving.

Powerful Truth: Deep freezing is the best way to keep food as fresh as just harvested.

But would the product live up to these insights? What would we find behind the appetizing pack-shot? Are the dishes worth preserving? The creatives were skeptical. So we decided to go and have a look into Nestlé’s mysterious cooking pot. In fact, we were not sure if we would find any kitchen at all. Our own prejudices were working quite well.

In fact, there is a kitchen – what you’d expect to find in a pretty clean giant’s household. The storage is filled not with slices of cheese, but with huge artisan cheese wheels. There are tons of real herbs. Everything is authentic. There is also a chef. Yes, he looks like all other chefs, dressed in white and with a chef’s hat. He could have been Italian, but I cannot confirm it. He was holding a gigantic wooden spoon, stirring a real Bolognese sauce in a cooking pot as big as a bathtub. No joke. It smelled really good. What an appetizer.

Immediately after the food is cooked, it is frozen. Out of the Bolognese bathtub-pot right into the Inuit’s deep freezing preserving cold in just a few seconds. It’s like just-in-time cooking.

That was our creative leap: Freezing means a just-in-time-harvesting.

We want to go on a mushroom hunt to find the perfect ingredients for our dinner. We simply don’t have the time. We want to know that our carrots came from a beautiful countrywoman who harvested them this morning. We want to be sure that an old fisherman caught the still wriggling fish with his weathered hands just hours before. These fantasies became the idea for our advertising.

Was it a tasty success? Yes. We have guided Nestlé Findus out of the dark and cold depths of the freezers back into their happy bellies.

  1. Findus can compete with chilled food brands Findus managed to become a strong challenger for the chilled food category and stopped the losses. It got out of the category’s bad image and is perceived being much fresher (+20%) as chilled food brand and has achieved their level of naturalness (all figures are compared to the average of the chilled competitor’s figures).

  2. Findus means naturalness and freshness The campaign had a high impact on the brand’s perception of freshness (+13%, 2008 vs. 2009) and naturalness (+59%, 2008 vs. 2009). Findus today has a unique position in the frozen food range: it is fresher (+71%) and more natural (+58%) than the rest (all figures are compared to the average of the chilled competitor’s figures).

  3. Findus is top of mind Findus is today undisputed top of mind in its original deep frozen category and even compared to the competitive chilled category. Every second consumer mentioned it unprompted (while the category average is 3% for frozen food and 6% for chilled food; that is increase of 800% to 1600% compared to the competitors!!!). The growth of awareness due to the campaign increased on incredible 78% (2008 vs. 2009)

So yes, we did bring Nestlé Findus back on Swiss’ tables and even on mine. It’s perfect for the nights after a long and exciting day in the agency, when I don’t feel like cooking.