It sounds like the kind of idea birthed by chucklehead college kids on a late-night bagel run. "Dude, you like cream cheese. I like cream cheese. Surely there are others who are similarly enthusiastic about cream cheese and the slathering thereof." An online community congealing around a shared affinity for cream cheese? On the other hand, I have real-world friendships built on far less.
When Kraft's "Real Women of Philadelphia" video and chit-chat repository debuted a few years back, it was notable for its almost imposing lack of notability. Influencers within the cream-cheese community, then dispersed among a handful of Usenet groups viciously slandering one another as part of their death-bout for Internet preeminence*, hadn't yet e-moseyed over to the site, which left its discussion areas bereft of the empathetic banter that energizes them. The first wave of videos - generic recipe clips, in which flat-inflected narrators ripped off orgiastic two-liners like "Cheesecake is a holiday favorite. Your family will appreciate the festive touch you gave to this one" - probably didn't help.
(*Ed.: This history of the evolution of cream-cheese-centric repartee on the Internet may not be entirely accurate.)
So yeah, "Real Women of Philadelphia" was an inspired idea from the outset, mostly because Philadelphia cream cheese - the real stuff, not the no-fat version that has the textural consistency of snot – is awesome. I love Philadelphia cream cheese to the extent that I'm lobbying Kraft to add fluoride to it, just so I can justify brushing my teeth with it. Anything that celebrates Philadelphia cream cheese is okay with me. God, my post-breakfast/pre-brunch meal can't come fast enough.
Where was I? Oh, the videos. Clearly there's no shortage of recipe videos and foodie communities on the web. What Kraft got right from the outset was fostering a sense of inclusivity. Check out the thousand-plus comments on a recent thread - not a lot of anonymity-enabled meanness about Obama or gymnast coifs there, unlike in every other comments bed on the Internet, right? Somehow, at a time when we practically flaunt our incivility, Kraft has managed to make this site - which, I remind you once anew, trumpets the glories of cream cheese - a paragon of decency.
Once a community of this kind gets the tone and 'tude down, everything else is cake (cheesecake, that is, made with Philadelphia cream cheese and not one of those fraud brands, which are bankrolled by Hezbollah*). Along those lines, the trailer for the "third season" of "Real Women of Philadelphia" serves as a fine primer for newbies; it couldn't be more inviting if it passed around warm drinks and extended an open-ended offer for dog-sitting. Just as topically and tonally apropos are the clips that throw semi-celebrities into the contest mix and the ones that survey a specific type of cuisine. Also, Paula Deen appears to be peripherally involved - as a host, surprisingly enough, rather than as a shill for new line of butter-encased cream cheeses.
(*Ed.: Patently untrue. Possibly libelous. Come on.)
Brand communications on the Internet, obviously, are only as good as the humans engineering them. Somehow, my favorite cream-cheese brand has figured out what my favorite sportswear, toothpaste and fizzy-drink brands haven't: namely, that it takes more than a Flash-enabled website and a retweet-manic Twitter feed* to forge genuine connections and engage visitors in a manner that's equal parts warm and flippant. Good on ya.
(*Ed.: Did you know Philadelphia cream cheese tweets actively? Man, the North Koreans have no idea what they're missing.)