Kraft Foods recently announced the existence of "Operation Spark" -- an initiative aimed at reconnecting consumers with "entrepreneurial" brands Athenos, Stove Top, Breakstone's and Knudsen.
Following Marketing Daily's recent coverage of the success of the Athenos campaign that's been underway for several months now, here's the inside story on the new campaigns for Stove Top, Breakstone's and Knudsen.
Kraft chose The Martin Agency (Richmond, Va.) to handle all three accounts (and Droga5 to handle Athenos), reflecting the Spark strategy of significantly upping the brands' advertising budgets and using agencies of record new to Kraft to gain a fresh perspective.
Breakstone's/Knudsen: "Food Your Other Food Loves"
Given that Kraft's sour cream and cottage cheese products are marketed under two different brand names -- Breakstone's in the east and Knudsen west of the Rockies -- the two are sharing a campaign with a creative emphasis on "The Food Your Other Food Loves," with slightly different implementations, reports Noël Talluto, senior brand manager for both brands.
The campaign includes four core TV spots (with 15- and 30-second versions): two for sour cream and two for cottage cheese. The spots -- the first in 10 years for these brands -- focus on the products' ability to combine with and enhance other foods. For example, the first creative variations being aired -- for sour cream -- portray a branded sour cream container as a romantic "hero" reaching out to a potato in a kitchen setting, as REO Speedwagon's "Keep on Loving You" provides the theme music.
"The campaign's creative conveys that both sour cream and cottage cheese are often partnered with other foods, in an engaging, light-hearted way that brings in the human emotion of love," sums up Talluto.
The Knudsen versions of the TV spots and other advertising differ only in the respect that because the brand is produced in California and consumers in that state (Knudsen's dominant West Coast market) are particularly attuned to fresh, locally produced products, the creative brings in that messaging element as a key differentiator, Talluto explains.
The messaging in Breakstone's version of the initial spot positions the brand as the "sour-creamier sour cream" that "other food loves."
Each brand launched a Facebook page in January, and Breakstone's has drawn 10,000-plus fans, while Knudsen's (which has a much less dense overall population in its distribution area) has drawn a few thousand. "We're thrilled with the results," says Talluto. The brands are driving engagement with at-least-weekly posts that include recipes but also more lifestyle-oriented information, like entertaining tips for the Easter holiday. "We want to engage with and help consumers in many areas that matter to them, not just make it all about our products," she says.
The brands have also formed partnerships with online networks that have significant reach among women, including All Recipes and Meredith. For instance, Meredith has created an Easter-themed destination site sponsored by Breakstone's, accessed through its magazine brand sites and search. At that site, consumers can find holiday and seasonally appropriate everyday recipes that include the brand's products, and also connect with bloggers offering entertaining and other holiday tips, and use a ZIP code-based tool that lets them share their own tips and see tips contributed from others in their geographic areas.
Banner ads on the brands' own sites and sites reached through paid and organic searches use "thought bubble" creative. A consumer searching for Easter recipes might see an ad that, when rolled over, shows the cake that's to be made from a recipe "dreaming" about being made from Breakstone's sour cream, for instance.
"We see a significant increase in searches for all kinds of recipes that include cheeses and dairy products -- and sales bumps for those products -- in the weeks preceding Easter and other major holidays," reports Jill Baskin, senior director of advertising for Kraft Foods' cheese and dairy brands. "We want to make sure that our brands are there when consumers are doing those searches to plan their holiday meals."
Coupons are a key element of the campaign, and the Kraft brands are finding that digital coupons are becoming as important as those in FSIs, as digital redemption rates continue to rise rapidly and the digital platform's lower costs balance out the so-far-still-larger reach of FSI's, says Baskin.
The in-store elements of the brands' campaign include shelf-talkers showing a scalloped potato dish/recipe that play off the thought-bubble creative concept.
The brands also now have two new lines of products being launched in stores nationwide, and the campaign will be expanded to spotlight these going forward, reveals Talluto. These include "Zesty Blends" products (three sour cream varieties infused with jalapenos, chipotle and roasted garlic and herbs), and a line of sour cream dips (ranch, French onion and Southwest varieties).
Stove Top: Stuffing as Everyday Alternative
Stove Top's new campaign targets the "weeknight warrior" -- moms 35 to 54 who juggle meal preparation as part of their many family/work responsibilities. The brand's research showed that these women are experiencing pressed-for-time "menu fatigue," pointing to a marketing emphasis on the brand's new (launched in Q4 2010) Everyday Stuffing Mix, reports brand manager Ryan Shamir.
The Everyday product, offered in two flavors, comes in a resealable canister, can be prepared for one to four servings, and takes two minutes to microwave, whereas other Stove Top products require using the whole box and take five minutes to prepare.
The new campaign's messaging takes a humorous approach, positioning Stove Top as the "un-potato" -- a "delicious and convenient alternative to potatoes and other starchy side dishes," says Shamir. The advertising, which spans online ads and social media, out-of-home and in-store promotions (plus couponing in FSIs and in stores), features images of a potato declaring sentiments such as "My favorite color is beige," with the tagline: "Potatoes are boring. Stove Top: The un-potato."
Stove Top ads are dominating transportation hubs and buses in key markets, and the campaign includes an ambitious range of digital efforts, starting with a made-over Facebook page that more than doubled fans within its first week (up to over 16,000), reports Shamir.
Stove Top has a digital partnership with Technorati, enabling it to build awareness through targeted bloggers within that network, as well as with -- perhaps a bit surprisingly, given the mom target audience -- The Onion. The brand's advertising (including product giveaway offers) dominated The Onion site's home page during a day in March to introduce its message "intrusively" and get the conversation going through bloggers. That site's dominance technique will be repeated during another day this month, according to Shamir. The creative's "funny, sarcastic" tone "resonates with consumers" who are Onion fans, she explains.
Online banner ads are appearing on the brand's Facebook page, The Onion and targeted paid-search sites. Outreach to mommy, food and cooking bloggers is also part of the campaign, and a video for use in the social media space is in the works, says Shamir. TV spots may be part of the mix down the line, she adds.