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Super Bowl spot puts food waste in the spotlight, again

CHICAGO – Football game, half-time entertainment, commercials … there’s usually something for everyone when the Super Bowl airs. This year’s big game on Feb. 13 did not disappoint, with many of the companies and brands advertising speaking to a younger generation that fears for the planet and makes choices based on having like values and beliefs. That’s what Unilever, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, set out to achieve with its Hellmann’s mayonnaise spot.

Hellmann’s made its first Super Bowl appearance in 2021 with a commercial providing tips on how to avoid wasting food at home. This year, the brand continued that messaging by showing how mayonnaise is a great accessory to help people use leftovers rather than tossing food. 

“The Hellman’s ads are all part of Unilever’s increasing focus on sustainability themes and is in step with consumers, who were already concerned about waste in general prior to the pandemic,” said David Wright, senior manager-marketing, The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. “While our sustainability studies have demonstrated increasing efforts and aspirations to thwart many kinds of waste, including plastic, packaging and food waste, we saw at the onset of the pandemic that the cultural focus on food waste in the home sharpened. 

“Consumers are increasingly thinking about how food waste occurs throughout the product life cycle. For them, the pandemic has illuminated the interconnectedness of the food supply chain. They may not have a nuanced understanding of all the waste that happens throughout the food production process, but they strive to control what they can for both environmental reasons and reasons of personal economy.”

In addition to the Hellmann’s spot, the theme of making more sustainable choices was present in several other commercials, with the most noticeable being electric vehicles. 

“It’s about being kinder to the earth,” said Deb Gabor, chief executive officer of Sol Marketing, Austin, Texas. “Many brands are leaning into that message. They are differentiating themselves based on what the brand stands for.  

“Brands are a part of people, not a product. A brand is a magnet to attract consumers with shared values.”

She said the Hellmann’s commercial provided a fun way to show viewers what it stands for and all the foods you can make with mayo. She also noted how few food and beverage spots ran this year.

In the commercial, former National Football League player Jerod Mayo is the star and he runs around tackling people who are about to waste food. He provides suggestions on how they can turn their leftovers about to be thrown out into other dishes using mayonnaise. Like last year, the commercial comes from WPP Group’s Wunderman Thompson, New York, and ran in the fourth quarter of the game.

Hellmann’s works with ReFED, a nonprofit with a goal to end food loss and waste, which uncovered that in the United States, 43% of all food waste occurs in the home. The most wasted foods: salad drawer vegetables, chicken, potatoes, bread and cheese. This is why the brand is focusing on helping people see the potential in their perishables, nudging them to cook with the ingredients in their refrigerator and helping them gain the skills and knowledge they need to make the most of the food they already have.