Brand Watch: Johnsonville Repeats Summer Success

The sausage brand leveraged social, in-store and retail media to reach shoppers.

Johnsonville Sausage had another strong summer this year with the return of a campaign during the key grilling season.

For the third straight year, the brand turned to longtime collaborator Bush Brothers & Co. for the “Best of the Backyard” program, which ran from May 15 through July 7.

“(These are) two products that are No. 1 in their categories working together to create an easy meal solution — protein and side,” says Fiona Redhair, marketing communications manager at Johnsonville.

At the center of the campaign was a sweepstakes with 100 high-value prizes all relevant to backyard grilling. One change Johnsonville implemented to the program this year was optimizing spending by removing the upload receipt purchase incentive. “We saw large drop-offs from prior years on shoppers uploading receipts as an entry mechanism — that tactic also complicated the rules and alternate method of entry,” Redhair says.

The program had increased exposure in-store through secondary merchandising. Display signage touted a URL for the sweepstakes. At all Albertsons Cos. divisions, in-store ads from Vestcom attached to shelf labels for Bush’s SKUs directed shoppers to scan a QR code and enter the sweepstakes. Co-branded creator content supported the effort on Instagram and TikTok. Pit Boss and the American Cornhole League also promoted the sweepstakes, which was administered by Los Angeles-based Sync Marketing.

Four retailer media networks were involved with the campaign this year — AD (Ahold Delhaize) Retail Media, Albertsons Media Collective, Kroger Precision Marketing and Walmart Connect. The retail media assets directed consumers to Johnsonville and Bush’s items on the retailers’ respective websites. They did not promote the actual sweepstakes but the overall “backyard grilling occasion,” Redhair says.

“We take a look at each retailer individually and which tactics are approved to use and/or work well for that particular shopper,” Redhair says. In retailers where traditional in-store activations weren’t accepted, Johnsonville and Bush’s staged co-branded promotions. They executed meal solution offers for either savings off Bush’s items or receiving free Bush’s items with purchase of Johnsonville products.

“Johnsonville had two main measures — percent of sales on display and share of dinner links,” Redhair says. From Memorial Day through Fourth of July, dinner links figures were 3% higher than prior year. Sales also increased 0.5% versus last year, she says.

Marketing agency and Bush Brothers partner Pinckney Hugo Group also worked on the campaign.