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Gold Cannes Lions
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For over 30 years, Lunchables was sold as a functional snack. Our goal was to change the perception of the product in order to drive sales.

We wanted to expand our lead, increasing sales as well as category share—something we’d failed to do in 2021. Since there wasn’t much differentiation from our competitors, we had to get consumers to see Lunchables in a whole new light.

The key was to dial in on kids’ behavior. Studies showed that “kid request” had a 70% correlation with parent purchase, making it key to unlocking growth.

Another key to growing sales was increasing parent favorability—helping them see Lunchables as not just snack fuel but creative fuel, and therefore be more inclined to start purchasing our product.

Finally, our website would be an important destination to help spur activity with Lunchables—where families could get building inspiration and buy products and we’d gather user-generated content.

Describe the creative idea

To get all types of kids building with Lunchables, we designed 31 unique food builds—from dinosaurs to baseball diamonds to SpongeBob SquarePants—using just our product. We called them “Lunchabuilds” and created blueprints for each one.

But we didn’t stop there. We also rebuilt our e-commerce site and, for the first time in the brand’s history, sold Lunchables not by flavor, but by the build. You could order a cat. Or bulldozer. And get the packs and blueprints needed to build them yourself.

Then we brought our Lunchabuilds to the world. We took over public transit with “Lunchabuses,” put an 18-foot-high “Lunchabear” at the Chicago zoo and at Marvel’s Ant-Man red carpet premiere, fans could ride a massive Lunchables ant.

But this wasn’t just advertising—every ad could be scanned to order that build instantly, making ads you could literally eat. See a Lunchables bus. Order that bus. Eat that bus.

Describe the strategy

For over 30 years Lunchables encouraged kids to build their lunch, their way.

But in 2022, we changed the way kids build—and buy—our product.

We decided to shift from passive traditional advertising (TV, print) to active ideas that get kids building, with a new call-to-action: Lunchabuild This.

The key would be finding new partners and showing up in new places where kids would see us. Our Lunchabuilds showed up at zoos, on buses, during superhero-movie premieres and even at the Kids’ Choice Awards—everywhere that kids were.

In order to drive sales, every ad was scannable and linked directly to our site, where families could buy that build instantly. We developed unique QR codes for every build and worked with Instacart to make a seamless purchasing experience: just click “Order This Build,” and your cart would be automatically filled with the packs needed to make it.

Describe the execution

We worked with a food stylist to create 31 Lunchabuilds. Each one was made using only our food: crackers, cheese, ham, pretzel sticks, chicken nuggets, pizza crust and pepperoni slices.

Once we had the builds, we rebuilt our e-commerce site, partnering with Instacart to let kids and families order “by the build” (instead of by the flavor, as we had done for 30 years).

Our Lunchabuilds were featured in OOH, digital, social and several contextual activations—like a giant Lunchables stadium at the MLB at Field of Dreams baseball game and a SpongeBob SquarePants Lunchabuild at the Kids’ Choice Awards. And every ad could be scanned so you could order that build instantly.

The site went live with the advertising campaign, which launched on August 15, 2022, and is still in market.

List the results

The campaign reinvigorated the brand, causing sales to jump a whopping 38% in YOY dollar sales. And Lunchables unit sales grew by 20.9 pts. YOY. This made for significant category-share growth, increasing Lunchables’ brand dominance over its imitators (source: IRI Panel data for Lunchables and category YOY dollar sales and unit share, comparing the back-to-school launch time frames).

“Lunchabuild This” turned around last year’s penetration decline, with Total Household Penetration increasing by 1.9 pts. YOY—that’s 2.3M more new households buying Lunchables!

Page views on our site, page views were up by 287%. And on Instagram, kids submitted thousands of new build ideas with #LunchabuildThis, which we turned into new “official” Lunchabuilds to keep kids building.

Is there any cultural context that would help the jury understand how this work was perceived by people in the country where it ran?

Lunchables is a North American food brand for kids that has been around for over 30 years. It’s a bento-style box containing various foods that you put together—like crackers and cheese and ham slices; or pretzels, cheese and chicken nuggets; or pizza crust, tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni. It is mainly consumed by kids for lunch at home or school.

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