Sep 26, 2017 • By

Families are the focus in new Pillsbury campaign

You can’t get any more authentic than the series of Pillsbury ads released last week on Facebook – just in time for baking season in the U.S.

For the first time, real families, who bake using Pillsbury products, were used in the series of television spots.


And families also provided the creative direction for the spots.

The genesis for the “Made at home” campaign began with about 30 in-depth home visits – each three to four hours long – with families in Iowa, Kentucky and Tennessee to get a better understanding of why they love Pillsbury and baking at home.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen that the creative truly came from in-home visits,” says Ben Irby, the business unit director for Pillsbury.


Ben Irby and Joanna Hargus worked on Pillsbury’s “Made at home” campaign.

“It was actually an emotional journey for me,” says Joanna Hargus, a senior marketing manager with Pillsbury, who grew up in West Virginia. “I could really relate to the way our consumers talked about home – not just their physical home but their communities. They live those small town family values that I grew up with.”

Irby and Hargus say that in nearly every home they saw signs on the wall, their “rules,” that outlined the family’s values.


The signs depicted simple values like “Use kind words,” “Work hard,” and “Be grateful.” And all of the advertisements conveyed the message that baking at home is such a great way to create family memories.

You can see how that translated into the advertising in the spot titled “House Rules”.

“Over and over we heard that’s what people really care about – family memories,” says Irby.

The key to developing that deep insight was to involve the entire team – including our advertising agency (Joan), Consumer Insights, and Research & Development ­– in the deep conversations with our consumer families, adds Hargus.

Hargus says the team knew it was on the right track when they showed the ads to employees at our plant in Tennessee and saw their reaction.

“We had people come up to us with tears in their eyes who told us how moving the advertising was,” says Hargus. “For me that goes a long way in showing that we’re representing a part of America that maybe doesn’t always get represented in media and commercials today. We continue to be inspired by our consumers’ ability to focus on what matters most, and we hope this message resonates with families across the country.”


Following the home visits, the Pillsbury team put out a casting call on Facebook for families to participate in the commercials. Keith and Rea Purvis, from Greenville, North Carolina, answered.

“It was sort of like entering to win a lawnmower or something – you never win it! But I thought I’d try,” says Rea.


The Purvis family.

After submitting a video of the family cooking at home, the Purvis’ and their two children, Griffin (13) and Ebbie (11), as well as Keith’s mom, Sarah, and 8-year-old nephew, Greyson, were chosen, and flown to Los Angeles for filming, where they joined three other families for the production sessions.

“It happened so fast we really didn’t have time to think about it,” says Rea. “It was crazy. It was such a whirlwind, quick thing. It was so much fun.”

Admittedly, they needed some time on the set to get used to the lights and cameras, and instructions from the crew.

“I didn’t know if I was doing what they wanted me to do,” Ebbie says. “I was a little afraid if I was doing it right or they wanted it a different way.”


Ebbie Purvis

The Pillsbury team was thrilled with the result and the authenticity of the families who took part in the ads.

“I think it meant a lot more to me because we all got to do it as a family. This will be something we share forever,” says Keith.

You can see the Purvis family in “Things We Made.”

The “Made at home” ads have begun airing on TV.

You can hear from Irby and Hargus – and a fun interview with Keith and Rea Purvis – in the latest episode of our podcast.

Listen (20 min)

SHOW NOTES – Episode 25: September 26, 2017

Video: “House Rules”

Video: “Things We Made”


Link: The General Mills History Minute/The tunnels that provided flour power

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