Uncle Ben's Connects Distanced Families Via Cooking

A new global campaign for Uncle Ben’s featuring a real-life father and daughter is designed to show how emotional connections made over dinner can help bridge physical distances between families.

And while many brands have suspended new-campaign production due to the perils of COVID-19, the Uncle Ben’s “Special Guests” spot is an example of how a commercial can be shot while practicing social distancing.

The 45-second ad from Energy BBDO opens with a kitchen conversation between a father and daughter as they cook one of Grandma’s recipes.

“When are we going to see Grandma again?” the girl asks.

“I’m not sure. Hopefully soon,” the dad responds.



As the video progresses, the two are seen coloring and exercising in front of the television. The child then runs off and selects new outfits for both of them before surprising dad with a dinner table video conference—with Grandma.

While viewers might assume the dad is a single parent, in real life he lives with his wife and daughter, according to Rafael Narvaez, global chief marketing officer for Uncle Ben’s parent Mars Food. 

“As a precaution, we kept the number of cast members on site to an absolute minimum,” Narvaez tells Marketing Daily.  “As we navigated an entirely new way of producing content in the current environment, ensuring safety was of the utmost importance to us.”

The film was shot in an unoccupied apartment above the home of the director, who lives next door to father and daughter. All the food shown in the ad was ordered using grocery delivery resources. 

“During filming, the only crew on site was the director and—out of an abundance of caution—he wore a face mask and ensured he was an appropriate safe distance during filming,” Narvaez explains.

Friends and family of the director are seen on a second video-conference screen on the dinner table.

The spot will run on owned and paid social channels in Australia, Canada, Germany, the U.K. and United States. In addition, it will run for two weeks on Hulu in the United States beginning April 20.

Uncle Ben’s has added downloadable “cooking-as-homework” content to its website to help create teaching moments for kids. One example is Chili Con Ratio—described as a “one-pot chili and rice recipe to teach your kids math.

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