Soon after Ferrero bought the Keebler cookie brand from Kellogg in 2019, Keebler took a time-out from advertising. It's back this summer with a new campaign. Alicia Mosley, vice president of marketing at Keebler, gives CPG Insider the scoop.
CPG Insider: Tell us how Keebler fits into the cookie landscape these days.
Alicia Mosley: When we acquired the brand in 2019, it didn't have a lot of personality. It had remained very dark, with not a lot of resonance with the consumer. Our consumer research uncovered people's love for the brand and confirmed why we acquired the brand. No 1, the brand stands for Ernie. No. 2, we stand for fudge, especially with our iconic Fudge Stripe cookie. And No. 3, we stand for magic.
CPG Insider: Who does it appeal most to?
Mosley: We bring a lot of variety to the category, along with the ability to bring special moments of magic to togetherness. I know any brand thinks they can say that, but for us, that message isn't delivered by the brand, but by a brand ambassador: Ernie the Elf. It's woven into the DNA of the brand. Older millennials and younger Gen-Xers yearn to share that with their kids today. They grew up watching Ernie delivering magic through the hollow tree.
This campaign is out of the desire to make that magic bigger. Everybody has so much going on in their lives. How do you just make those ordinary moments just even more special?
CPG Insider: How does that translate in the campaign?
Mosley: The overarching theme is 'Magic is here." And underneath, we have what's called little acts of magic. They're not special occasions. We're not trying to win those. Consumers go to our microsite for these inspirations, and our $100,000 Magic Dough program allows consumers to win daily prizes of $5, $100 or $200, and they can enter to win a grand prize. Ernie delivers the money via Venmo. And we're partnering with Haylie Duff. She's the right demographic for this Gen X/millennial target, and she's all about having fun with her family.
CPG Insider: What do you think Keebler's brand advantage is?
Mosley: Variety. We have a cookie for every occasion. First, we've got cookies that appeal to kids, including Chips Deluxe with M&Ms and E.L. Fudge. We've got family favorites, like our Fudge Stripes. And cookies like Pecan Sandies have adult appeal for that kind of "me" moment. Our goal is to make a cookie for everyone in the family. No one is left out.
CPG Insider: How much will you spend on this?
Mosley: I'd say it's a nice, healthy budget, and this will be our biggest campaign this year. We're no different than any other company in that we were plagued by the fallout from the COVID rebound and supply challenges. So we were dark on media for about 15 months. We had time to do this the right way. The effort started mid-May, and we're aiming for 1.5 billion impressions.
CPG Insider: What metrics mean the most to you?
Mosley: First, we're trying to increase household penetration. We gained some buyers during the pandemic and want to keep them. Purchase intent is also important. And with this contest in social media, we're also tracking engagement.
CPG Insider: I believe Ernie came from Leo Burnett, famous for its cartoon characters. Has he changed during the hiatus?
Mosley: No. We like that about Ernie. He's an elf, and elves are timeless. He's had a few light touches, but nothing appreciably different. And I will keep you in suspense by telling you we have updated the female elves. You'll see them in the coming year.