Hungry Girl Co-Stars In New Starkist Campaign

Charlie the Tuna, the 50-year-old TV advertising icon, is getting a co-star for a new cross-platform ad campaign. And it will shift the tagline in Charlie ads from “Sorry Charlie” to “Thanks Charlie,” and focus on the health and convenience benefits of the brand.

The co-star is “Hungry Girl” -- AKA Lisa Lillien, the TV personality who started the “Hungry Girl” email newsletter about healthy and convenient foods in 2004. It now has 1 million readers.  

A StarKist rep confirmed that the budget for the new campaign is $18 million, with $15 million allocated to messaging featuring the pouch products.

New 15- and-30-second television spots, developed by creative agency MMB, kick off this month on various networks, including Cooking Channel, Food Network, Lifetime, TBS, TNT and USA.

The new TV ads will open with a montage of familiar “Sorry Charlie” moments and then lead into the new campaign, where consumers are shown saying “Thanks Charlie” for convenient and healthy meals.  



Lillien, a best-selling author who appears on both the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, will appear alongside Charlie the Tuna in a variety of ads, including print, free standing inserts, in-store and digital, along with public relations efforts. Lillien’s role is designed to promote the brand’s portable Fresh Flavor Pouch plastic wrap container.

Commenting on the new campaign, StarKist CEO In-Soo Cho stated that the effort shift’s the iconic tuna’s role “to that of a hero. He provides consumers with healthy, convenient and delicious meal options that are perfect for their on-the-go lifestyles.” Cho insisted that the company would never dump the memorable “Sorry Charlie” phrase. At the same time, he added: “We believe it is time consumers say ‘Thanks Charlie’ for providing great-tasting, healthy seafood.”

Print creative featuring Charlie and Hungry Girl will appear in the January issues of Shape, Cooking Light, Every Day with Rachael Ray and Real Simple. Digital media will appear on various Internet properties, including, and Facebook.

Charlie the Tuna was created by Leo Burnett and debuted in TV ads in 1961. Media for the new campaign was handled by Horizon Media.

StarKist is a subsidiary of Korea’s Dongwon Group, which purchased the company from Del Monte in 2008 for a reported $360 million.

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