Cream cheese: It’s not just for breakfast anymore.
That’s the message Kraft is trying to get across with a new ad campaign aimed at fans of its Philadelphia brand, who are increasingly using it as a topper on snacks like strawberries and celery sticks.
The goal is to increase such usage, said Chitra Ebenezer, marketing director for Philadelphia Cream Cheese. “You can take it out for use on a bagel, but then you don’t take it out again till the next day,” she said. “We’re giving [the target consumer] reasons to take it out of the fridge after 10 in the morning.”
Bagels are conspicuously absent in the ads. One TV spot, which broke during the Academy Awards, shows a female accountant eating a cracker topped with Philadelphia cream cheese to refuel her day. The snack is apparently so energizing that she later finds the inspiration to redo her budget and have dinner with her friends at a Tuscan villa.
Two ads breaking next week (April 6) via Nitro build upon that theme. In the first, a woman hits the mall after eating some Philadelphia cream cheese atop crackers and makes the newspaper’s “Style” section because of her fashionable outfit. A 15-second version shows the same woman indulging in a snack of cream cheese and crackers and not being able to “bear a day without it.”
The outreach includes ads on People.com and Wonderwall, the online, celebrity portal of Internet site MSN. Cream cheese snacking tips have also appeared on the backs of Nabisco packages (also owned by Kraft), and the brand just wrapped up a contest promotion with Extra TV show host Mario Lopez asking consumers to come up with the best cream cheese snack. The spots replace the decade-old Philadelphia ads, which depict a series of angel characters rhapsodizing on the brand’s virtues.
The idea of expanding the use of a product is an old marketing trick, made famous by Florida Orange Growers, a trade group that ran ads in the 1970s stating the product was “not just for breakfast anymore.”
Heinz also tried something similar with frozen entrée line Smart Ones, said David Driscoll, a Citi analyst who covers Kraft. Whereas Smart Ones was formerly consumed during the dinner occasion, Heinz has since expanded it into the breakfast and lunch mealtimes with subsequent iterations.
“The addressable opportunities are much larger if you can in fact bring consumers to a totally different meal occasion, and it’s essentially a very nice way to get higher velocities within [the category],” he said.
Harry Balzer, chief food analyst at the NPD Group, said the strategy aligns with Americans’ current use of “spreads” as a snack. The research firm found that 25 percent of the U.S. adult population currently uses a “spread” as a snack at least once in a two-week period. “That’s about the [same size] as the number of people who are on a diet in this country,” he said, adding that this number has been fairly consistent for the past seven years.
Kraft isn’t the only company to realize the opportunity, however. Schreiber Foods—the No. 1 provider of private-label cheese—still derives a majority of its sales volume in this sector from the 8-oz. bar, but it’s also upped the ante with new, snack-related dairy items.
“One of the ways we’re growing the category is to offer new things such as dips and sandwich spreads that can offer a replacement for some kind of a condiment, a high-end flavor delivery that they can add to their sandwiches or wraps,” said Rebecca Propson, marketing segment manager on creamy products at Schreiber Foods.
Spending for the campaign was not disclosed. Philadelphia cream cheese’s U.S. measured media spend slipped from $27 million in 2007 to $17 million last year, excluding online, per Nielsen.