Hellmann's Urban Gardens

I include this full case study because it's an interesting piece of strategic repositioning in a bit of a dull category. It's a creative solution that seriously changed the business.

The Real Food Movement 2007 Case Study

Hellmann’s has long called itself the “real” mayonnaise. It’s the one unadulterated recipe of eggs, oil and vinegar that stands out like a beacon on a shelf of white jars with many more ingredients. But research showed consumers are cynical about mayonnaise (or anything) being real anymore, and it was a revelation when they learned what’s in our jar is not only authentic but also has healthful properties that come with those ingredients. Our strategy was to make the Hellmann’s brand stand for real.


We believed we could most vividly stand for real by creating strong association with all real, unadulterated foods. To do this, we proposed that Hellmann’s cheer on and facilitate Canadians eating real foods.

We learned that there has been an explosion of interest in backyard and community gardens in Canada that goes with a trend toward real food, away from processed. Hellmann’s real ingredients made it a natural advocate for home grown foods. So, our first initiative was to create urban gardens across Canada, in of all places, parking lots. You could say our primary medium was dirt. Urbanites received seed packs with invitations on the back to enter a contest to win a free plot by submitting an essay online. There were also invitations in newspapers and banner ads. We let people know about the new Hellmann’s Urban Garden Fund---designed to assist existing community gardens. At every touch point we reinforced the real story of Hellmann’s—the natural recipe and added surprises of Omega 3’s, no trans fats and it’s low in saturated fat. All communications pointed to hellmanns.ca, and all signed off with “Hellmann’s. Eat for Real”.

Photos from the Toronto urban garden.

The result was overwhelming. Hundreds of Canadians submitted heart felt essays and we knew we had really struck a chord hearing of so much yearning for a garden experience. Hellmanns.ca went from 61 visitors in March to 78,619 in June, after the campaign launched. Visitors spent an average of almost 11 minutes on the site. Media coverage has been extensive and glowing. Many newspapers, websites and television programs have told stories of individuals who are tending the plots, their lives enhanced by that peaceful and healthy experience. There are 5,391,594 media impressions to date. YTD shipments are up 25%, the highest growth in the world. From June 10th to July 7th, Hellmann's base brand sales were +7%, while market was –2%.


Ogilvy Toronto created the idea and then we worked with several Unilever suppliers in partnership to produce the programme.

The campaign consisted of:
Door Drops that had carrot seed packs attached
A Consumer Promotion
Instore activation
Hellmann's Jar Tags
A large web media buy
Redesigned website
Media Partnerships