Kraft’s ‘The Ditcher’ has familiar ring to it

Like nearly all companies, Kraft wants to connect with the kids outside of TV. For its DiGiorno Pizza for One brand, it had AKQA build an online application called “The Ditcher” that will call or text a pre-set excuse to leave an unfortunate situation, from a bad date to an endless meeting. The messages range from the alarming (your kid is in trouble) to the ridiculous (the monkey escaped). Pretty clever, no? Maybe not all that original, though. Cell companies have offered similar services for years. Virgin’s “Rescue Rings,” rolled out 18 months ago, offered subscribers a way out of a disastrous date—you’d text a short code to Virgin, and 10 minutes later, you’d get a short message back from Richard Branson. Cingular (now AT&T) has been on this even longer. In 2004, it added an “Escape-a-Date” feature that let users preset a call as a readymade excuse to weasel out of an awkward encounter. Everyone in the ad business obsesses over the originality of ideas in TV and print ads—does the same hold true for tech applications?

—Posted by Brian Morrissey