Rather than spending months preparing for a big Labor Day sale, Dave’s Killer Bread instead decided it was the perfect time to focus on an under-discussed, labor-related issue central to its brand identity.
Recognizing the popularity of career guidance-related posts, the brand worked with creative agency Maxwell to share “Second Chance #JobTok” videos -- featuring highly valued employees of the company who were formerly incarcerated -- on TikTok and other social platforms.
The videos focused on the barriers formerly incarcerated people typically face in pursuing employment -- an issue very much at the heart of the brand. After founder Dave was released from prison, he was welcomed back to his family’s bakery, where he and his brother developed the recipe that would form the basis for the brand.
The employees in these videos are no anomaly, either. Around one in three employees at the company’s Milwaukie, Oregon headquarters are formerly incarcerated.
Dave’s Killer Bread senior brand manager Cristina Watson told Marketing Daily the company began discussing the issue more publicly about a decade ago out of a sense of responsibility gained from its rising status.
“We feel we have a relationship with fans who are so passionate about the products we make and what we stand for, and feel a duty to advocate for people who are very often silenced in conversations about giving opportunities to those who deserve it,” she said.
With the “Second Chance #JobTok” campaign, the goal was to reach formerly incarcerated people looking for hope and career advice, as well as show prospective employers the opportunities provided by considering formerly incarcerated people.
“Our belief is that if we can open minds and hearts, it can open a groundswell of compassion that will force businesses to take a hard look at their hiring practices and make changes there. Our place is in really breaking down that stigma,” showing “that seeing people as [individuals] and not what they did in their past is what everyone deserves,” Watson said.
She noted that the brand’s advocacy unfortunately doesn’t always land without some resistance among those conditioned to view formerly incarcerated people as “damaged goods” or “not worthy” -- even after they’ve served their sentences.
“99% of people who know we do this absolutely love us for it,” Watson said. “Just because you meet resistance, doesn't mean you’re doing the wrong thing.”
The only trepidation about going forward with the effort had to do with ensuring the company was telling these stories in a sensitive way, and not exploiting the cause to sell bread.
“We have to be very conscious of the fact that these people have shared some of the most painful stories of their lives,” Watson explained.
“Every time we talk about second-chance hiring, we’re very conscious about how and why we talk about it,” she added. “We know it works. We've seen lives change, [and] people change.”