Kraft Spreads the Word About Athenos With Sampling Effort

Kraft continues to step up the marketing behind its Athenos hummus brand with the launch of a restaurant sampling tour and a “true or false” online game.

The sampling tour, which is part of the brand’s ongoing “100 percent olive oil” campaign, kicks off at Cellar 56 restaurant in Atlanta tonight (Thursday), followed by similar events in Denver and Chicago early next month. Participating restaurants in the three cities will serve up bite-size treats with Athenos hummus in hopes of giving diners their own at-home entertaining ideas, Kraft said.

Kraft, which owns brands like Kool-Aid and Jell-O, is also working with restaurant and entertainment guide Metromix, and US Weekly magazine, to launch a “true or false” quiz on the latter’s Web site. The brand is sponsoring a series of three-question quizzes, from which players must pick out one false statement. (The quiz topics are centered on pop culture and brand trivia.)

“What the game is all about is finding the truths in a line of questions, and in the process, we’re also revealing truths about the Athenos hummus brand,” said brand manager Marshall Hyzdu. Such brand trivia might include the fact that Athenos is sold in 11 different flavors, and is made with “real” ingredients, including chickpeas, lemon juice and garlic, Kraft said.

Agencies Razorfish, Digitas, Upshot, Mediavest and Edelman handled digital, creative, media buying and PR duties, respectively.

The goal is to strengthen Athenos’ positioning as the “only leading hummus brand made with 100 percent olive oil,” Hyzdu said. In its research, Kraft found that the notion of “100 percent olive oil” and real ingredients really resonated with consumers. “The reason is because Americans are really looking for real and authentic food options,” Hyzdu said.

Additionally, Kraft has enlisted the help of radio stations in its latest effort. Radio stations like Star 94.1 in Atlanta, Alice 105.9 in Denver and Chicago’s The Mix 101.9 FM will select listeners to participate in a series of live quiz events conducted by the station’s morning show hosts. Kraft is giving away a trip for two to South Beach, Fla., and is promoting the campaign via its Facebook page.

Athenos, which currently has a 15.1 percent share, or $46 million in sales in the refrigerated, flavored spreads category, said volume has grown nine percent (compared to a year ago), since its “100 percent olive oil” campaign was launched. For the 52 weeks ended Jan. 24, its sales were down 4.10 in that segment, though overall category sales were up 15.8 percent, per IRI. (Data does not include Walmart sales.)

Hyzdu said Kraft might extend the sampling effort to other major U.S. cities. The goal is to target cities with a high number of “urban dwellers, and young transitionals,” because those are the two groups where this message of health and real ingredients resonates the most, he said.

Kraft spent $72,000 advertising Athenos in both 2008 and 2009, excluding online, per the Nielsen Co.