'Men's reactions were staggering': Why a nut brand took on equal pay

The gender pay gap...and nuts?

Company: Planters
Campaign: The Pay Gap Is Nuts
Agency partners: ICF Next, mcgarrybowen, Starcom
Duration: April 2019

Using a hidden camera, Planters brand Nut-rition filmed customers reacting to its gender-specific packaging, in which the male version contained 20% fewer nuts than the female version, despite being priced the same.

Male shoppers, unsurprisingly, were not pleased. If they don’t like that, the video suggests, maybe they should also take issue with the fact that "women get paid 20% less than men for the same work."

Masha Ievseieva, Nut-rition’s associate director of brand building, explained that Nut-rition didn’t want the fact that it is a "small nut brand" to preclude it from participating in important, buzzy, national conversations.

"If we look at modern life, equal pay is one of the most important issues in life for many women today," she said.

In December, Nut-rition decided it would launch a campaign tied to Equal Pay Day, which is on April 2. The premise: highlight the issue by showcasing how men react to a far smaller injustice - paying the same price as women for 20% less nuts.

The brand partnered with Equal Rights Advocates, a nonprofit women’s rights organization, and the actress Laura Dern, who was an executive producer on the video and helped promote the campaign on social media.

In March, the video was shot in a real supermarket in Los Angeles. Up until this point, the brand wasn’t sure if the responses would be strong enough to build a campaign around. Pretty quickly, however, Ievseieva knew the video would work.

"The reactions we got from these men were staggering," she said.

In the video, they alternatively argue, yell, and reason with the cashier (a comedian hired by Nut-rition), about the unfairness of the gender-specific packaging.

"This video was a simple metaphor that brings to life this big important issue in an approachable way," Ievseieva said.

Nut-rition began reaching out to the media two weeks before the Equal Pay Day launch of the campaign. The pitch included the video, along with information about the gender pay gap. Top-tier outlets were also offered the opportunity to speak with Dern.

On April 2, Nut-rition posted the campaign on its social channels, as did Dern, and Equal Rights Advocates. Interested consumers were encouraged to visit www.paygapisnuts.com, which included relevant statistics.

The original plan was to only post the video on social, Ievseieva said. But the team liked the video so much it aired a 30-second version on television for a few days following the launch.

The stunt video was viewed more than 5 million times across social media and the campaign website - paygapisnuts.com - received 8,000 visits. The campaign also generated nearly 50 earned media placements, including mentions in Forbes, AOL, CNN, Yahoo!, Bustle and Uproxx.

In the days following the launch, Nut-rition remained active on social media, responding to fans and skeptics alike. On April 4, the brand announced it would donate $1 to Equal Rights Advocates for every comment - good or bad - it received on a post about the gender pay gap.

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