Kraft Ritz Push Relies on Glitz

Kraft Foods is putting on the glitz for its Ritz brand with a campaign featuring celebrities such as Wyclef Jean, Guy Fieri and Tiki Barber, among others.

The effort, by Euro RSCG, New York, comes as sales of Kraft’s No. 1 cracker brand typically jump 25 percent in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, according to the company. The campaign, themed “Tailgate,” is also the latest evolution of Kraft’s “Open for Fun” push, which aims to court a younger audience for the 75-year-old Nabisco cracker brand.

Playing on the American tradition of tailgating before a sports game, the new spot opens with members of a Ritz marching band performing Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Let’s Groove,” arranged by musician and rapper Wyclef Jean. Then, suddenly, former New York Giants running back/Today show correspondent Tiki Barber jumps in for a few tosses. The spot ends with everyone dancing and happily snacking on Ritz, with the tagline, “Ritz. Open for fun.”

“Tailgate” marks the first time Ritz has had such a celebrity push since the days of pitchman Andy “Good Cracker” Griffith. Ritz, which has set up a Facebook hub and digital game to promote the cracker, has also tapped  Fieri, of the Food Network, to serve up Ritz recipes in a segment with CBS sports analyst Boomer Esiason to run during the network’s Road to Super Bowl pregame coverage. Sheeba Philip, senior brand manager for Ritz, said this is because Kraft is looking to grow Ritz by partnering it with “cultural icons.”

“We want to anchor Ritz into [fun and relatable] experiences that people can really understand and participate in during the year,” she said, adding that, “Nothing speaks to fun more than bringing people together through sports and music.”

In 2008, Kraft set out to position Ritz—which had suffered a decline in sales—as an iconic brand by “taking a look at how people feel about Ritz. The overarching feedback was that it was an incredibly fun cracker,” Philip said, offering insight into the “Open for Fun” launch.
Kraft upped its investment in Ritz from $27 million in 2008 to $33 million through the first 11 months of last year, per Nielsen. Figures do not include online spending.