Bumble Bee Leverages Old Jingle's Buzz

by , Mar 17, 2009, 5:01 PM
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Bumble Bee tuna ad spotAfter decades of little advertising other than couponing, Bumble Bee is back--with a campaign that plays off lingering buzz from the "Yum, yum Bumble Bee, Bumble Bee Tuna" jingle in its 1970s commercials.

The campaign's tongue-in-cheek 30- and 15-second TV spots, created by McCann Erickson Los Angeles and being tested in key markets, feature a "troubadour" somewhat reminiscent of David Cassidy strumming his guitar and singing the jingle. The singer, clearly transplanted from the '70s, wanders into current-day scenes showing people enjoying Bumble Bee's products in a variety of ways (surfers eating tuna burritos, a family eating tuna tacos, gallery-goers eating tuna sushi, etc.)

The message is a humorous way to remind consumers of tuna's versatility. "People know that tuna is nutritious, inexpensive and high in Omega-3's, but they tend to think of using it only in a few ways, like sandwiches and tuna-noodle casseroles," says Steve Levit, chief creative officer, McCann Erickson L.A. and Detroit. The commercials--which run on cable and broadcast in early morning and in daytime programming--"remind people of tuna's versatility in a fun, irreverent way," he says.

The creative was inspired in part by finding punk-band covers of the "Yum, yum" song on YouTube. "The song was already 'sticky'--it had remained a part of popular culture," so it made sense to build on that rather than start from scratch, Levit tells Marketing Daily.

The campaign, conceived prior to the accelerated economic downturn, will likely benefit from tuna's inexpensiveness as a meal basis and may evolve over time, says Levit. Noting that the tuna category as a whole hasn't invested heavily in advertising in recent years, he says that Bumble Bee believes the campaign will increase its market share as it lifts tuna sales overall. (Bumble Bee is the leader in the premium/albacore segment.)

All of the campaign's creative elements include the tagline "Life is full of flavor. Bumble Bee. Yum," and drive consumers to a BB-branded micro site. The site offers simple, tasty tuna recipes, a recipe search tool and a "create-your own cookbook" feature.

Two print ads, appearing in food magazines including Cooking Light and Everyday Food, spotlight specific recipes (such as a "Bumble Bee tuna spinach salad") and the simple ingredients needed to pull them together. "The idea is to be able to tear it out and use it almost like a shopping list as you walk down the grocery aisle," notes Levit.

Consumers have received mixed messages about tuna in recent years, as the fish's known heart-health benefits have come up against growing concerns about mercury content.

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