Kraft Has Celebs Munching on Athenos Hummus

Kraft Foods is looking to reinvigorate sales of its Athenos hummus brand with a campaign that began with a sampling effort at yesterday’s “Hollywood Helping Haiti Golden Globes” event.

Athenos, which is owned by Kraft, was the exclusive food sponsor of the “Hollywood Helping Haiti Golden Globes.” (The event, held annually, is called the “Platinum Publicity Golden Globe Gifting Suite,” but was renamed this year to help raise funds for Haiti’s earthquake relief.)  Kraft tapped French chef Ludo Lefebvre—a previous contestant on Top Chef Masters—to serve bite-sized nibbles to approximately 200 attendees.

Some of the recipes included buckwheat crepes served with Athenos feta, honey bacon and roasted eggplant. Banners and signage surrounding the Athenos booth touted the brand’s “made with 100% olive oil” slogan, which is also the theme of the new campaign.

Athenos brand manager Marshall Hydzu said the Golden Globe tie-in marks the first time the brand has kicked off a major advertising effort. (It hasn’t run any TV ads for several years now.) And the brand could certainly use a lift. Sales of refrigerated spreads—a category that includes hummus—rose 15.9 percent in the 52 weeks ended Dec. 27, but Athenos’ hummus sales were down 2.4 percent during the same time period, per IRI. (The data does not include Walmart sales.)

Kraft is hoping to use the Hollywood event to get the word out that Athenos is “the only leading [brand of] hummus made with 100 percent olive oil,” Hydzu said. The message is one that “resonates very strongly with consumers who want real and authentic food,” he added.

Kraft spent $40,000 advertising the Athenos brand, through the first 11 months of 2009, excluding online, per the Nielsen Co.