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Kraft Brings Crackers to Life in Holiday Push

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Kraft today unveiled a print and online campaign that tells the story of three ginormous crackers: Ritz, Triscuit and Wheat Thins—all of which are part of Kraft's Nabisco division. The push comes as U.S. consumers prepare for another season of eat-at-home entertaining.

Kraft tapped ad agencies Euro RSCG, Momentum WW, the Starcom MediaVest Group and interactive agency Digitas for the nostalgic campaign that brings back childhood memories.

The campaign evolved following keepsake holiday recipe booklets that Kraft tucked into December issues of publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies Home Journal and Country Home. One million U.S. magazine subscribers received a complementary copy of "The Tale of the Magical Crackers," which like the title suggests, tells the story of a Ritz, a Triscuit and a Wheat Thin cracker that come to life and magically regenerate each time the narrator—a dog—or his caretakers take a bite.

Israel Garber, Euro RSCG's executive creative director, said the creative team wanted to personify the brands to connect with consumers. "You're looking at three very famous icons of holiday lore. Why not give them their own story? Let's make them big. Let's make them ginormous," Garber said.

Another element of the integrated push is a microsite, Nabiscoworld.com/magicalcrackers, where consumers can play games, watch an animated film version of the story, or enter a Nabisco sweepstakes. Prizes include a 42-inch plasma HDTV and a $50 electronics gift card. A trailer version of the animated film is also playing on an outdoor digital billboard in Times Square. (Walgreens unveiled the massive display last month; Kraft, Johnson & Johnson and several other packaged goods companies have all bought ad space.)

Laurie Guzzinati, associate director of corporate affairs at Kraft Foods, said that while the company has traditionally advertised its cracker brands during the holidays, this year, the emphasis is on recipes, partly due to an increase in in-home entertaining. The previous two years involved a holiday tie-in with cooking celebrity Rachael Ray.

Kraft has also extended the recipe portion of the microsite to its word-of-mouth network, Kraftfoods.com. "With products that are so much a part of consumers' lives, we have a very robust number of recipes for how to pair these crackers with other ingredients," Guzzinati said.

Mintel senior analyst Krista Faron said the campaign is "spot on" with relevant consumer sentiment right now, particularly as it conveys nostalgia. "We're seeing more of that now," Faron said of these types of campaigns, pointing out Kellogg's revival of the Hydrox cookie. "Considering the state of the economy . . . traditions, trust and transparency—these are the values that are important now," she said.

Faron added that cracker brands like Ritz, Wheat Thins and Triscuit tend to do well in a down economy because they are the "small treats and little indulgences" that consumers will treat themselves to.

Last year, Kraft spent $13 million advertising Ritz during Nov.-Dec., and $1.2 million and $1.5 million on Triscuit and Wheat Thins, respectively, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Those figures do not include Internet spend.