Recipe for branded content success: An inside look at Chef Artois

Chef Artois is the new culinary web series SJC produced in partnership with the Bokeh Collective for Stella Artois and Toronto Life.  With a goal to reinvigorate and support Canada’s restaurant scene through Rally for Restaurants, it contains all the ingredients of a successful branded content collaboration.

Chef Artois is airing weekly on Wednesdays on Toronto Life‘s Instagram and Facebook channels and Stella Artois’ YouTube channel until October 28, 2020. If you haven’t yet caught one of the first sizzling episodes, here’s a quick synopsis: Each 10-minute episode is filmed in a Toronto restaurant with a live audience and hosted by acclaimed Canadian television and radio host, Pay Chen. Two dinner guests are randomly selected to recreate the restaurant’s iconic dish (Marben’s exquisite modern take on a Scotch Egg, for example.) In a heated battle, the contestants get less than an hour to cook up the delicious entrée. Each signature dish is judged by the restaurant’s head chef and a victor is crowned, earning them a prize pack from Toronto Life and Stella Artois Canada valued at over $1,000, including a gift card to the featured restaurant.

The results from Stella Artois’s YouTube channel following the first two episodes speak for themselves:

  • Average total views: 170,164
  • Average earned views (based on those who view your video ad, then later watch another video on your linked YouTube channel, within 7 days of the initial view): 64
  • Average completion rate: 22.5% (against a benchmark of 18-22% for videos 10 minutes in length)
  • Average watch time: Over 4.5 minutes
“These are the highest YouTube engagement numbers Stella Artois has had to date,” says Michelle Skea, Senior Brand Manager for Stella Artois and Hoegaarden. “We are impressed with the incredible production quality and clever alignment with our Rally for Restaurants initiative. And knowing that the program would be syndicated through SJC’s media brands, it saved on the investment required on our end. Thanks to the SJC team for all your work day and night to drive such a strong execution!”

Here are some of the ingredients that make the execution so unique:

Brand Alignment for Stella Artois

While producing a Safe Set Studio video for Covid-19, Carmen Lago, account director for SJC Content along with team members from the Bokeh Collective, were inspired to find a way to create an original web series that would help restaurants at a time when they couldn’t open their doors to the public. When Carmen heard Todd Allen, VP of Marketing for Labatt speak on a podcast about the launch of the Rally for Restaurants initiative, they knew they had found their match.  After a series of big ideas with Labatt, SJC and Bokeh, the competitive culinary concept of Chef Artois emerged as the initiative that aligned best with the Stella Artois brand. Toronto Life joined as the ideally suited platform and co-branded partner to deliver the message and amplify the idea across its channels.

Community Outreach

The culinary competition is in continuation of Stella Artois’ Rally for Restaurants – an online gift card program that provides restaurants and bars across Canada with immediate financial relief as a result of the global pandemic. The program encourages Canadians to purchase a gift card valued at $25 or $50. Stella Artois adds an additional $10 to the value of every gift card purchased, which goes directly to restaurants, bars and pubs. To date, Rally for Restaurants has sold over 14,000 gift cards and has injected over $600,000 into the restaurant industry.

Multi-platform promotions across SJC brands

As momentum for the series increases week over week, episode views on Toronto Life more than tripled from 92,000 views for Episode 1 to almost 300,000 views for Episode 3. A huge benefit for Stella Artois has been the ability to syndicate the series through SJC’s portfolio of trusted media brands and tap into its existing audience nation-wide. While the episodes are released each Wednesday on Toronto Life’s Instagram and Facebook channels, as well as Stella Artois’ YouTube channel, we run promo spots, digital ads, eblasts and social content across our other brands including Maclean’s, FASHION, Chatelaine and FLARE. Each episode also airs weekly on Toronto Life’s YouTube channel.

Here’s a look at some of the promotional multi-brand, multi-platform content:

Promo videos: 15-second, 30-second and 60-second versions

Social posts

Toronto Life articles

Prior to each episode, Toronto Life publishes a promo article with 60-second teaser video that is pushed out on social and across other SJC Media brands. With the release of each new episode, Toronto Life runs an article with the highlights and full episode embedded. Here’s a sample for Episode 2 and all episode recaps are filtered to this Chef Artois category page.

Digital ads, Newsletters & Emails (leveraging SJC Media properties)

Chef Artois digital promo

Print ad

Chef Artois Toronto Life ad

Behind-the-scenes photography

Chef Artois behind the scenes

 

A production dream team

To produce the series, SJC Content worked alongside the Bokeh Collective, which boasts an impressive resume in Canadian TV production and cinematography. Justin Harding, Chef Artois Showrunner,  Rob Brunner, Chef Artois Series Director, Ryan Saw, Chef Artois Director of Photography and Amy Hosking, Chef Artois Writer, have worked on such renowned shows as Amazing Race Canada, MasterChef Canada, Top Chef Canada, Come Dine with me Canada and Home to Win. This experience and expertise gives the Chef Artois episodes their cinematographic flair.

Compelling storytelling

Branded content is a fun and creative way for brands to connect with their audiences, especially when incorporating the drama of a challenge-based, reality TV approach.  Viewers get engaged in the stories and the characters, creating a positive and memorable brand experience week after week.

 

From our SJC production team working alongside the talent of the Bokeh Collective to Toronto Life’s branded content and marketing groups, we were thrilled to be a part of this special  branded content execution that rallies much-needed support for restaurants in this era of Covid-19.

Episode 5 of Chef Artois launched today; find out how the contestmentas play with fire at Momofuku Kōjin.

You can watch all past episodes here. 

Staying safe on set at a time of Covid-19

Since the start of the pandemic, our focus has been to enable our clients to continue capturing quality photography and video for their marketing campaigns. How do we adapt client content and budgets while staying attuned to the needs, concerns and lifestyle habits of consumers?

In April, we launched the SJC Safe Shoot Solution. We produced live photo and video shoots, all the while minimizing human contact, ensuring a safe environment on set, conducting client approvals remotely and maintaining high-quality creative output.

Next, we expanded our solution and protocols to safely shoot clothing, accessories and products on live models and talent for broadcast and content marketing campaigns.

A Covid-19 safe content production workflow for all photography and video, both on and off-figure, on set and on location, is our new normal. Our studios continue to produce a variety of product and lifestyle photography and video content for a wide range of categories including fashion, beauty, food, home, automotive and consumer packaged goods. We even had Tessa Virtue on set last week! (See below for a sneak peek.)

Of utmost importance is the safety of our crews, talent and clients. Here are some of our protocols:

  • Production schedules are arranged to limit the number of people on set at one time.
  • We keep records of all persons on set.
  • Social distancing markers are placed in high-traffic areas.
  • All members of a limited crew work with masks and gloves or sanitized hands   throughout the process.
  • We monitor strict and regular disinfecting of all surfaces and equipment, including lighting, cameras, viewing screens and a library of seamless backgrounds.
  • Covid Coordinators are on set to ensure health and safety protocols are followed.
  • Our 135,000 square feet of studio space, as well as garage door outdoor access, provides ample space and flexibility to allows for safe, isolated and individual sets where essential crew members can maintain a minimum distancing of six feet apart,

To really get the sense of what an SJC Safe Shoot entails, we’ll take you behind the scenes of a few recent shoots:

 

Styling Olympic figure skating gold medalist, Tessa Virtue, for her broadcast spot for The Brick. 

Safe Shoot Tessa Virtue and The Brick 1

 

Getting ready for a safe shoot for Serta Canada’s Serta Spectrum collection.

Serta Safe Shoot

 

Taking the shoot outdoors for uniform and corporate apparel expert Cintas Corporation.

Cintas Safe Shoot 2
Cintas Safe Shoot

 

On set with The Bokeh Collective at Marben restaurant for the new SJC-produced Toronto Life and Stella Artois culinary series, Chef Artois.

Chef Artois BTS_Marben
Chef Artois

 

While the pandemic has brought limitations and uncertainty to many aspects of how we work and live, the SJC Safe Shoot Solution enables our teams to work with clients to continue producing new and authentic content. We’ll ensure a human element to your marketing and connect with your consumers through fashion, food, lifestyle and e-commerce content for any channel.

If you have any questions about our video and photography during Covid-19,  please contact sjc.connect@stjoseph.com.

 

Rexall’s private label brands get better and better

Rexall has picked up another two awards for its private label brands, this time from the Retail Council Grand Prix New Product Awards for its Be Better Age Defying Overnight Mask and Be Better Dark Chocolate Covered Whole Almonds Dusted with Real Raspberries.

Since 2017, Rexall has partnered with SJC to re-imagine its range of owned brand products across all categories, including these latest brand designs for the Be Better line.

“SJC has done a fantastic job on creating a new and upscale design for Be Better products. We really appreciate the partnership and ongoing support,” said Anna Kaplan, Director for Private Brands for Rexall.

“Thank you to the brilliant SJC team for the beautiful designs,” said Anu Dhanju, Product Development Manager for Rexall.” The visual appeal of our products definitely resonates with our consumers and is a key component of why we won.”

Rexall and SJC have partnered on a number of industry renowned package designs, such as the Rexall Kit beauty line in 2019. Rexall wanted to re-think the brand and position it for a wider demographic. SJC created an on-trend design, featuring cleaner lines, bold graphic elements, contemporary colours and a much stronger and more impactful brand mark. The redesigned brand was featured and showcased at the PLMA’s 2019 Private Label Trade show in Chicago.

Rexall Kit

SJC also worked with the Rexall private brands team to reinvent its flagship health and beauty products, its line of essential home producers called Savvy Home, its food line Nosh & Co and the Rose & Robin seasonal line. The Be Better line makeover won a Silver at the 2019 PAC Canadian Leadership Award, which celebrate craftsmanship in package brand design and innovation.

“Package design and the product inside are the two main drivers of any successful product launch or redesign,” says Bryan Raymond, Account Director for SJC. “While great design can compel a consumer to try it, the product has to deliver. Here we have another case for Rexall of both of these factors living up to their promise. Congrats to Rexall on these latest awards in product innovation.”

Rexall Be Better package design

 

Sobeys names SJC its Content Partner of Choice

In a new multi-year agreement starting summer 2020, SJC will be Sobeys’ full-service partner, using our “content factory” model to create integrated marketing assets including flyers, in-store marketing, digital and social.

We will serve all of Sobeys’ Canadian grocery banners including Safeway, Foodland, IGA, Thrifty Foods, FreshCo and Lawtons Drugs.

SJC Content has been working with Sobeys over the past year to produce effective print and social campaigns such as this one for Cinca de Mayo:

“We are excited to expand our successful relationship as an all-encompassing partner for Sobeys,” says Tony Gagliano, Chairman & CEO of SJC.  “With both organizations sharing a foundation of family values and strong guiding principles, the partnership is a natural fit. Our unique combination of process, technology and creative expertise will provide a continuous stream of meaningful content to engage the Sobeys consumer for years to come.”

Celebrating “holiyays” with The Brick

In a series of 15 and 30-second broadcast spots, HGTV’s Kortney Wilson moves from the dining room to the living room to the kitchen, where she unwraps one key product for each space.  A fun way of positioning the My Brick Home 2019 holiday catalogue (photographed, designed and printed by SJC), each product benefits Kortney’s holiday entertaining and inspires viewers to create their own stylish party central this season. 

Shorter spots were also created for digital and social platforms, including animated supers for when audio is off.

It’s all part of the cross-channel content ecosystem we deliver for The Brick that includes flyers, digest, point-of-purchase (POP), internal sales videos, broadcast, video and social.

Evergreen content created through our COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere) model creates efficiencies, ensures creative integrity and extends reach across all channels, serving to surprise and delight current customers while attracting new ones.