Kraft Seeking New Ideas on Gevalia

Kraft Foods is seeking new creative ideas on its Gevalia brand of coffee and coffeemakers, amid a bid by Starbucks to end its retail distribution deal with Kraft, according to sources.

For a dozen years, Kraft has distributed Starbucks coffee at supermarkets and other retail outlets. Starbucks sought to end the deal in November, and Kraft is now challenging the move in federal court.

Such a split would raise the stakes on the marketing of Kraft’s other coffee brands, including Maxwell House, Tassimo and Gevalia.

To date, Gevalia marketing has been limited to direct mail and an occasional direct-response TV spot. Sources expect Kraft to broaden such efforts as the brand moves beyond mail-order distribution and into retail stores. As such, Gevalia’s marketing budget will likely grow.

Kraft’s creative search includes the incumbent, Interpublic Group’s Draftfcb, as well as WPP Group’s Taxi, independent Droga5 and Being, a unit of Omnicom Group’s TBWA, sources said. Each agency is pitching out of its New York office. Client executives have briefed the shops and final presentations are slated for next month, said sources.

The agencies either declined to comment or could not be reached. The client did not return messages.

Being and Droga5 are Kraft roster shops, with the former handling creative duties on Planters, Wheat Thins and Tassimo; and the latter, on Athenos. Taxi does not have any Kraft business.

Gevalia is believed to supply about $2 million in revenue to Draftfcb, which has seen its roster shop status decline this year, with the loss of brands such as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Wheat Thins, Chips Ahoy, Fig Newtons and Nabisco 100-Calorie Packs.

The agency, however, still handles creative duties on Oreo, Cool Whip, Jell-O, A1 and Velveeta.