Top of the food chain
How Campofrio keeps tapas fresh
Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, Campofrio
Campofrío is more than 50 years old; what have been the key factors in the brand’s success and growth over the years?
Campofrío was founded in 1952, so we are 65 years old but we are not going to retire yet. We have plenty more to say in the next 65. The secret is always simple: to understand well what people want and try to be first to provide it with the best possible value proposition.
How do you strike the right balance between tradition and innovation?
Innovation is an obligation, it is the most important lever to make sure we’re always close to the consumer, trying to help them in their day-to-day life, and offering solutions that add value. Tradition has to be always an asset from which to innovate, a facilitator, because it brings you expertise, a knowledge that is one of your competitive advantages and helps you innovate better than your competition. But tradition can never become a reason not to innovate or to dare to do new things. When that temptation or dichotomy is presented, is usually an excuse not to think, and not to put the consumer at the center of the company. To stay in a comfort zone would lead to corporate suicide.
How difficult is it to stand out in your category?
No category is easy. At the same time, I like to say that no category is more difficult than the others. Innovation is possible in all categories and should be highlighted, because differentiation and relevance are key factors in consumer preference. When I entered Campofrío more than 10 years ago, I remember several people telling me that innovating in the world of charcuterie was impossible because a chorizo was simply a chorizo, and if you changed it "you would taint it". That is a fallacy. Throughout the past decade we have launched hundreds of new products, both in Spain and throughout Europe, and consumers have incorporated them into their diets, which have also evolved, logically. We have also been very innovative in our communication with the consumer, and there we have taken advantage of the prominence of food brands in people's lives.
Is there such a thing as a typical Campofrio customer?
Campofrío is one of the most bought brands in Spain, and although after a fire of our main factory we suffered a decline, we are in third position of the brands that enter the greatest number of Spanish homes. It’s therefore very difficult to speak of a typical customer when we are bought by more than 70 percent of Spaniards. The breadth of our range of products, covering all consumption occasions, multiple targets and multiple needs, allow us to reach a very broad spectrum of people. Moreover, in the last 10 years we have understood the changes taking place in Spanish society and we have evolved accordingly: in 2007 our communication plans were practically 100 percent TV campaigns for housewives, and today this would be unthinkable.
How do you cater to younger and digital audiences? How do you adapt your products and brands with them in mind?
Brands that do not attract new consumers are potential "zombies", they are dead although they do not know it yet. We started our digital adventure about eight years ago, listening first. We were listening for a long time before we started to do anything else. I think brands generally listen too little, but the new generations want to tell us many things, to co-create, to feel that they are co-owners of brands. It's a golden opportunity.
You use a lot of humor in your advertising. Why is this a good match for the Campofrio brand? Do you use this approach just in Spain?
Humor is a classic resource in advertising and it can be useful for many brands. We incorporated it because we understood that it was something very typical of the way of being of the people here, and because during the economic crisis, there was a wave of pessimism. We thought it was a good time to remind Spanish society that one of the few possible remedies was not to lose their good mood and try to recover some optimism. It has indeed worked very well, and we have exported it to other markets such as France, Belgium and Portugal. Also other emotions and values related to friendship, family, joy, solidarity and a certain social criticism with irony have been at the heart of our campaigns in Spain and in other countries, like Mexico, since last year.
How does social media fit into your media mix and how is that evolving?
We start with the idea, the story we want to tell, then we get to work on the media, thinking broadly about the points of contact we can have with people, and where we can establish the richest connection and the most extensive dialogue. We are fascinated by social media because it allows us to listen to people, and gives them the opportunity to appropriate the campaign – to enjoy it, share it, criticize it or scold us. We live in the best time for communication and we must know how to take advantage of that. Many of our campaigns have trended on social networks, and have been organically shared by millions of people, hugely amplifying their impact. Years ago this was impossible for a brand with a budget like ours.
Campofrío has received awards, and much attention, for its actions after your factory in Burgos burned down. Tell us a little more about that.
Our priority was the hundreds of colleagues who temporarily lost their jobs and experienced a terrible personal drama. We tried to focus on transparent and responsible communication with them, and to do as much as possible to recover their jobs as soon as possible. As it has been a long process, of more than two years, we have tried to look for some intermediate milestones to maintain everyone’s spirits. Our agency suggested we make bricks from the ashes, personalize them with the name of each employee, and send them as an invitation to place the first bricks in the new building almost a year after the fire. The response from Campofrio workers was very moving.
As Campofrio has expanded internationally, what’s the balance between adapting to local tastes and being consistent as a parent brand?
Outside Spain we are a brand that promises authenticity and a very specific origin, but it is obvious that this is interpreted very differently depending on the proximity and knowledge of the Spanish market and our culture. We try to adapt to the most important markets, and in those that are not so relevant we are more rigid.
How do global consumers’ views of Spanish brands vary by category?
We are very fortunate. Spanish gastronomy is admired all over the world. We are one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world, and every year more than 60 million people visit us, whether for the Bernabeu or the Camp Nou, the Prado or the beaches of Mallorca, but I assure you that there are few who leave without having eaten tapas and a good plate of Iberian ham. The word tapas has become global.
Do you have any advice for other Spanish brands that want to go global?
Well, Campofrío really has a long way to go in order to consider ourselves as a global brand, because although we sell our products in more than 80 countries, in many of them, brand awareness and equity is still very low. In the global world we live in, there are many opportunities for international growth. I think the fundamental lesson is the same as that for being successful at home: understand the consumer.