Old Tyme Hot Dogs Get New Design

Before: Kayem’s packaging needed to say goodbye to the banner proclaiming “DELI” since consumers didn’t know what that meant. Also needed? Some color correction and a more prominent logo.

The idea:
Classic is one thing, but “stale” isn’t a term a marketer wants people to associate with his edibles. So, Kayem Foods of Chelsea, Mass., got cooking on a design project to coincide with its frankfurter’s 100th anniversary. “I don’t think they had updated their identity in eight to 10 years and it reflected that,” said Michael Lafortezza, president of LAM Design, the Pleasantville, N.Y., agency that handled the assignment.

The research: Kayem had been emphasizing the wrong words, it seems. “Deli” had been emblazoned across the old package, but consumer research showed that people had no idea what the word meant in relation to wieners. “Old Tyme,” however, conveyed emotion, so that term stayed. The Kayem name was rather small and inconspicuous on the old packaging, so it was brought to the forefront. New copy was carefully chosen: Along with the addition of the word “Frankfurters,” the claims “gluten-free,” “made in the USA” and “no fillers, no artificial flavors or byproducts” were added to the new package. “Those things have always been true,” explained Matt Monkiewicz, vp-marketing at Kayem, whose family has managed the brand for four generations. “But if we don’t mention it on the package, people don’t assume it.” A photo of a hot dog with all the fixins was added for appetite appeal. Lafortezza also saw color as a way to differentiate the dogs. Many brands, such as Nathan’s, are dominated by yellow- or green-packaging schemes, so Lafortezza saw an opportunity to “build on the power of blue” that Kayem traditionally bore. However, that hue was more of an electric blue, and a tad garish for the adults they intended as targets for the premium-quality, natural-encased deli dogs. “We moved to a deeper blue with more depth and robustness, with gold and more platinum aspects,” Lafortezza said. “The neon was a bit too abrasive, but blue stands out.” Special attention was paid to how multiple packages of the dogs would create an arresting visual “brand block” on store shelves.

The top execution “wasn’t as quick of a read” as the agency had hoped for, Lafortezza said, and there were some concerns about the package containing too much black. Meanwhile, the mealy color scheme and other elements of the design exploration in the middle didn’t whet people’s appetite. The bottom image evolved into what ultimately became Kayem’s final design (see below).

The final design: The final design features a new hue of blue, copy that’s more relevant to today’s shoppers, a serving-suggestion photo and a shout out about the brand’s centennial celebration. Previously a frankfurter brand that’s been regional to the Northeastern U.S., Kayem is beginning to roll its dogs out nationally.

The results: In the 12 weeks ending July 11, 2009, Kayem’s volume was up 7.3 percent and sales had risen 15.7 percent, according to ACNielsen’s Grilling Index. In contrast, the overall frankfurter category has been dogged by a soggy summer back East. “We’ve had one of the wettest grilling seasons in history and the frankfurters category is down about 5 percent, but we’ve managed to grow a little bit,” said Monkiewicz. “Everything we’re hearing anecdotally is positive. The meat managers are telling us consumers are really responding and that you can see that brand block across the store.”