Feb 22, 2024 - Business

Smucker's CEO says marketing will make Uncrustables a $1 billion brand

Screenshot of the Uncrustable's commercial featuring a cartoon version of the circular sandwich.

Screenshot: Smucker's/YouTube

J.M. Smucker —the food and beverage manufacturer behind brands like Smucker's jelly, Jif peanut butter, Folgers coffee and Twinkies — is leaning on marketing and communications to unite its employee base and build its next $1 billion brand.

Why it matters: Since taking the helm in 2016, CEO Mark Smucker told Axios he has prioritized communication and views it as a lever for maintaining competitive advantage.

State of play: To connect with external audiences, Smucker has ramped up its brand marketing efforts.

  • Partnerships with athletes who eat copious amounts of Uncrustables — the Baltimore Ravens consume about 7,500 per season, for example — have been an authentic way to connect with new consumers.
  • And the brand's partnership with the NFL-playing Kelce brothers has really moved the product.

What they're saying: "It was a really organic partnership," says Smucker. "Travis Kelce mentioned that he eats Uncrustables more than anything else, so we were able to engage with the brothers and sponsor three of their podcast episodes … and actually, they riffed on Uncrustables for several minutes, giving the brand great exposure."

Zoom in: This rise in demand has led to the opening of a new factory, which means more deskless workers.

  • Of its 9,000 employees, about two-thirds are working in manufacturing centers.
  • Smucker has leaned on internal communications, site visits, monthly town hall meetings and managerial communications to keep employees engaged.

Getting in front of employees is important, says Smucker.

  • "It can't be a one-way conversation, it has to be two-way. So those are some of the things that we do to try to keep all of our employees engaged — and we have the philosophy that if every employee understands what our strategy is, then we will continue to win."

What's next: Smucker acquired Hostess for $5.6 billion in 2023, and the integration has required very detailed communication strategies, says Smucker.

  • "We've done many of these in the past — and when they are successful, it's because we communicate."

Go deeper ... J.M. Smucker to buy Twinkie maker Hostess for $5.6 billion

Go deeper