Kraft adapts marketing model

01 July 2011

NORTHFIELD, Illinois: Kraft, the food group, is modifying the marketing strategy for a number of its brands, in a bid to connect with younger, digitally-engaged consumers.

The company, which owns Cadbury, Kool-Aid and Oreo, is attempting to adopt a more interactive approach for ranges such as Athenos, Mac & Cheese and Miracle Whip.

In an example of the organisation's new model, it will roll out a nationwide advertising campaign for Miracle Whip.

As part of this scheme, Kraft is to run a competition through which it plans to help couples pay for a divorce if they can prove their decision was at least partly related to conflicting views on Miracle Whip.

Equally, a separate contest will offer $25,000 to pay for a wedding, where the winning betrothed couple provide the most compelling suggestions of how they intend to deal with their contrasting attitudes.

This idea resulted from consumer insights data, including that yielded by social media, showing deeply divergent opinions regarding Miracle Whip.

It will build on previous ads which featured various spokespeople saying whether they liked or disliked Miracle Whip.

One of these executions showed Pauly D, a star in the reality series Jersey Shore, saying he wouldn't want to have a girlfriend that enjoyed Miracle Whip.

"We've seen Twitter posts about how people have broken up over this," Chris Kempczinski, Kraft's senior vice president, meals and enhancers, told the Wall Street Journal.

"Conventional wisdom would say that we were putting a spotlight on people who don't like Miracle Whip, but the discussion was happening whether we liked it or not."

A primary motivation behind this shift in tactics is a desire to attract younger shoppers, who typically do not perceive themselves as the core audience for the brand.

Miracle Whip sales have declined by around 5% per year over the recent past, but as revenues stand at $260m, excluding Wal-Mart, it still constitutes an important part of Kraft's portfolio.

Prior efforts at attaining such a goal included youth-orientated ads, aiming to differentiate the product from alternatives through the "Don't be may" tagline, as well as transforming the label design.

Elsewhere, the Twitter buzz surrounding Mac & Cheese on Twitter - often reaching thousands of tweets a day - revealed considerable untapped interest.

In response, Kraft ran the "Mac & Jinx" competition, meaning two members of the microblog making posts about the brand at the same time were sent a message telling them there had been a "jinx".

The first user to reply was then given a free Mac & Cheese.

Similarly, Kraft has sought to modernise the image of its Athenos range, incorporating humus, feta cheese and yoghurt, through using a straight-talking Greek grandmother in several ads.

"We weren't trying to be controversial," said Jill Baskin, Kraft's senior director, cheese marketing communication, after some groups claimed the spots had a slightly derivative tone.

In demonstration of the popularity these ads have achieved, one commercial lodged over 150,000 "likes" on Facebook, with many social network users commenting on the realism of the lead character.

A dedicated channel on YouTube video-sharing platform featuring three ads has also received more than 3m hits to date, and now has 2,300 subscribers.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff