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Bumble Bee To Launch First Major Tuna Ad Campaign In 20 Years

Bumble Bee Foods has brought back a well-known "Yum yum" jingle for its tuna brand in a new campaign that touts the product’s many uses.

The campaign, via McCann Erickson, Los Angeles, features a troubadour singing the lyrics: “Yum yum Bumble Bee, Bumble Bee tuna,” while passing by people in different settings, eating canned tuna. The vignettes show the tuna's many uses, as people enjoy it in salads, tacos and sushi. The brand is testing the spots in key cities in the U.S., including Florida, Texas and southern California.

The effort marks the first major ad campaign for Bumble Bee in nearly twenty years. Bumble Bee has gone through a series of ownership changes, the most recent being its acquisition by private equity firm Centre Partners in 2008.

Linda Jackson, svp and group account director at McCann Erickson, Los Angeles, said the spots aim to get consumers to see tuna in a different light. “We learned that the consumer tends to think of tuna in a very narrow way, as the tuna salad mom always made for me, or, if they want to do something wild -- a tuna noodle casserole,” Jackson said. Print ads running in Cooking Light and Everyday Food show possible meal combinations, such as a Bumble Bee tuna spinach salad. Tagline: “Life is full of flavor. Yum.”

Steve Levit, chief creative officer at McCann Erickson, said the campaign is expected to help draw attention to a category that’s typically very “static and stagnant.” Canned tuna sales were up 2.45 percent for the 52 weeks ending Feb. 22, per IRI. Category leader Starkist saw sales slip 2.97 percent, while Bumble Bee’s sales dropped 0.5 percent.

“Here is an entire category where people haven’t advertised in a while. How do we get people to understand that this product is wonderful, contemporary and that there are lots of uses for it?” Levit said of the creative challenge.

In reviving the jingle, however, the brand had to adopt a “tongue-in-cheek” approach, Jackson said. “If we played it too stiff, it would come across as corny,” she said. (Fifteen and 30-second versions of the spots show consumers staring at the singer as though he is “plucked” from the past.) In test market results, Jackson added, those familiar with the jingle identified with it on nostalgic terms, while younger listeners said it was “catchy.”

Bumble Bee spent $650,000 in U.S. measured media in 2008, down from $3.2 million in 2007, excluding online, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.