Cannes Lions

OLD EL PASO - #MESSFREECHALLENGE

GENERAL MILLS, Melbourne / GENERAL MILLS / 2021

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Overview

Background

Old El Paso was launching their biggest product innovation in 7 years, Tortilla Pockets™, a tortilla with a bottom, allowing the brand to conquer a significant consumer pain point around eating Mexican… The new Pockets™ were the 1st ever total mess-free tortillas!

Our task was to launch this innovation with a campaign that would break into culture, and demonstrate the unique product benefit. However, we knew that we couldn’t just tell this, we needed to prove it in action. On top of that, we also wanted to fulfil our brand purpose to be a force for good.

Around late August 2020, we saw a cultural moment happening: Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios refused to play the 2020 US Open as the season reopened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This story hit the news and sparked a conversation about the divided opinions within the tennis community. That was our opportunity!

Idea

To prove that Old El Paso’s Tortilla Pockets™ are truly mess-free, we decided to put them to the ultimate stress test on social media, launching the #MessFreeChallenge. We challenged Nick Kyrgios who then galvanised influential athletes on Instagram to post a video of them playing at full pace, all whilst eating our new Tortilla Pockets™ with zero spills!

Each participant came up with their own way of taking the #MessFreeChallenge and shared it with their followers. They then challenged other fellow stars, creating a movement of international sports influencers co-creating and demonstrating the benefits of our product for a good cause – each name jointly donated thousands of Mexican meal kits to local food banks in their home countries, and each video share added one extra donation to charity.

Strategy

Old El Paso’s brand platform, Make Some Noise, needed to build salience with consumers in addition to achieving mass awareness of their new Tortilla Pockets™.

To drive the desired awareness, we decided to use a cultural moment happening in sport, activating the right influencers on social media, to generate PR interest around our product's unique benefit – Mexican is finally mess-free.

We identified an international tennis star who is extremely popular on social media, Nick Kyrgios, as the spearhead of the initiative who would then galvanise the tennis community into action for a good cause.

Our strategy combined the right use of tennis influencers during Grand Slam season with a strong charitable angle, ultimately generating hundreds of headlines and earned interest both locally across the key markets for our launch and globally.

Execution

Some days after Nick’s announcement, we got him to start our #MessFreeChallenge on social media on US Open Finals day by playing tennis full-tilt whilst eating a Tortilla Pocket™. As part of the initiative, 20,000 Mexican meal kits were donated to Foodbank Australia via his Foundation, every share of Kyrgios’ video generated a donation.

Leveraging the popularity of social challenges, Nick then challenged Australian tennis legend Lleyton Hewitt to build locally, before taking the #MessFreeChallenge global by challenging British icon Andy Murray on the eve of the French Open that was happening in 2 weeks.

From there the initiative grew organically, with tennis stars across the world, ranging from Top 10 to Grand Slam winners, taking on Nick’s #MessFreeChallenge The tricks got crazier and engagement went up, turning our launch into a worldwide social influencer charitable movement with 100,000 kits donated globally, re-uniting the tennis community for a great cause.

Outcome

The #MessFreeChallenge resulted in 50 million social accounts reached and generated an earned reach of over 1.2 billion PR impressions globally, with over 260 articles across 5 continents, and TV mentions across major networks like Sky Sports (UK), Eurosport (FRA), Channels 7 and 9 (AUS). Additionally, our influencer activity achieved an average engagement rate of 7.8% across platforms, an impressive high result compared to the 2% average.

The Tortilla Pockets™ launch exceeded the sales forecast by 60% across Australia and Europe becoming the #1 or #2 selling SKU across 5 major markets and added 70% new shoppers to the category within the first 2 months of launch with 75% repeat purchase.

Most significantly, the initiative resulted in the donation of 100,000 meal kits via influencers to families in need via local food banks globally. All as part of Old El Paso's wider global initiative to help fight food insecurity.

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