Krave is jumping into parent company Hershey's Olympics marketing push, adding 18-time gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps and two-time gold medal soccer player Carli Lloyd to its roster of meat-snacking athletes.
Print ads featuring the athletes include the line "Fueling Team USA to Krave Better," an extension of the "Krave Better" phrase the brand has been using since 2015.
On Friday, Krave released a campaign teaser video showing Mr. Phelps swimming and doing other types of training. The work was done by goodDog, which is a sister agency to LeadDog Marketing Group.
The latest marketing push from Krave comes amid continued growth and interest in protein snacking. Products from yogurt to granola bars tout protein content on packaging, while brands better known for sliced deli meats such as Hillshire, Hormel and Oscar Mayer have made more portable prepared snack items.
Krave's head of marketing, Rusti Porter, said early this year that the brand would more than double its marketing budget in 2016 and anticipated revenue would also more than double this year.
Now, Krave and other jerky brands are trying to drum up more attention by entering new categories. At last month's Sweets and Snacks Expo, Krave showed off the turkey, pork and beef dried meat bars made with fruits and other ingredients that it will begin selling in August. Oberto Brands, meanwhile, displayed products including a trail mix with jerky it plans to introduce at the end of the year. The trail mix, with nuts, chocolate and meat, as well as a wider variety of gourmet jerky products and some value-priced packs, are part of Oberto's push to help spark additional interest in the category. Only 30% of households eat meat snacks, David Lakey, SVP-marketing, Oberto, said at the recent industry trade show.
Plus, the brands have an opportunity to capitalize on National Jerky Day, which Jack Link's cooked up in 2012. This year, Jack Link's is putting on what it is calling an Ultimate Meatathon in Brooklyn on June 11-12 to coincide with National Jerky Day on June 12.
Krave's upcoming campaign will include Team USA Olympic-themed point of sale displays, videos, print and digital ads.
Ms. Lloyd, in an email to Ad Age, said she first tried Krave a few years ago and now eats it "a couple times a week or so." While Ms. Lloyd said Cabernet Rosemary and Chardonnay Thyme are tied as her favorite varieties, a print ad she appears instead shows the brand's Sea Salt Original beef jerky.
As for Ms. Lloyd's right knee, injured during a match in April, she said: "It's getting better, not quite 100% yet, but I'll be ready to go soon."
Mr. Phelps has endorsed numerous brands during his career. He was dropped by Kellogg in 2009 after a photo of him with a bong surfaced online. He currently works with Under Armour, Omega, Aqua Sphere, Master Spas, Sina Sports and 800Razors.com.
The third Olympian on Krave's roster is marathon runner Meb Keflezighi, who was already associated with the brand alongside football player Vernon Davis and trainer Jillian Michaels. Mr. Keflezighi also appears in one of the new print ads with the Olympics theme.
Krave's other plans include Team USA having the jerky brand in Rio, thanks to parent company Hershey's partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee.