The Lowdown: The Thanksgiving Week Edition

From Food Floats to 'Brown Friday,' Brands Play on Thanksgiving Themes

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The Lowdown is Ad Age's weekly look at news nuggets from across the world of marketing, including trends, campaign tidbits, executive comings and goings and more.

Before you head off to gobble up that turkey (is it a Norman Rockwell-adorned Butterball?), here are a few items we noticed this week.

There's plenty of food-related marketing well before Thanksgiving dinner is served. Two food brands joining the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this year are Avocados From Mexico and KFC.

Avocados From Mexico, the top-selling avocado brand in the U.S., is already lined up to appear in its second Super Bowl commercial. First, it's promoting itself on a less guacamole-filled day. Its float for the 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade resembles a cafe, where singer Daughtry is set to appear during Thursday's parade.

KFC Parade Float
KFC Parade Float Credit: KFC

KFC's float includes signs marking significant places in the chain's history, starting with Corbin, Ky., where it was founded. Colonel Sanders may wave from a replica of his white limo in the center of it all, or perhaps from a massive KFC bucket. Here are more details on this year's parade.

Both parade newbies had their fun along the way to New York (we won't tell them their floats were likely assembled nearby in New Jersey). Avocados From Mexico asked fans to tweet using two hashtags, #MacysParade and #AvoTracker, for a chance to win a $1,000 Macy's gift card and has a map at www.avotracker.com to show some stops along the route from Michoacán, Mexico, to NYC. And based on its Twitter feed, KFC needs a new map. The Yum Brands chain has shown Colonel Sanders along his route from Kentucky with stops such as St. Louis, Las Vegas and Mt. Rushmore.

Del Monte Classic Green Bean Casserole
Del Monte Classic Green Bean Casserole Credit: Del Monte

For some, the holiday is not complete without a certain comfort food side. Del Monte asked 3,000 Americans whether they planned to eat green bean casserole this Thanksgiving. Residents of Louisiana have the highest propensity, with 60% planning to eat the side dish, according to the Del Monte Green Bean Index. Oklahoma and Kentucky follow closely to round out the top three states. Hawaiians are least likely, at 17%. Perhaps no surprise, the highest-rated secret ingredient people want in the dish -- something other than green beans, cream of mushroom, and French fried onions -- is bacon.

Kraft Heinz Stuffle
Kraft Heinz Stuffle Credit: Kraft Heinz

And don't forget the leftovers. Kraft Heinz Co. is showcasing a synergy from this year's merger that has nothing to do with cost cuts. Its leftovers "Stuffle" combines turkey, Stove Top stuffing (a legacy Kraft brand) and Heinz HomeStyle Gravy (legacy H.J. Heinz). Get out your waffle iron. The full recipe is here, but the basic requirement is to add beaten eggs to leftover stuffing, cook that mixture like a waffle, and proceed to top it with turkey and gravy. "It is a delicious and fun alternative to the traditional turkey sandwich," Amy Donato, associate brand manager for the Heinz brands, said in a statement.

This year's stats aren't available yet, but according to Kraft Heinz, more than 17 million jars of Heinz HomeStyle Gravy were purchased during Thanksgiving week in 2014. Plus, an average 40 million boxes of Stove Top are sold from October to December. Plus, there's the Artisinal Hipster Pilgrim's attempt to take stuffing beyond the holiday table, as Creativity noted.

Stouffer's Multichannel Campaign
Stouffer's Multichannel Campaign Credit: Stouffer's

For a break from cooking Thanksgiving fare, how about some artfully prepared frozen comfort food? Stouffer's "All to the Table" campaign shows large meal gatherings including a "Friendsgiving" scene. The effort, from the Nestle USA brand with digital agency Swift, includes how-to advice and decorating tips for a few meals on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the Stouffers site. It marks the brand's Instagram debut.

Oculto Illuminated Bottle
Oculto Illuminated Bottle Credit: Oculto

To wash it all down, festively lit beer. Tequila-flavored beer Oculto has added a new packaging gimmick: Bottles that light up. The Anheuser-Busch-owned brand, which uses Day of the Dead imagery, recently unveiled the limited-edition packaging at an event called "Garden of Hedon" in Miami. The bottles use electronic pathways, paper batteries, micro switched and LED lights. A pressure switch is located where the thumb naturally falls on the bottle, activating lights that flash through the eyes of a mask image on the front of the bottle. The brewer plans to sell the bottles at select events in 2016.

While many call the day after Thanksgiving "Black Friday," there's one busy group that calls it "Brown Friday" -- plumbers. Roto-Rooter says the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year for plumbers and drain cleaners as they head out to clear out dirty sink water and sewage. Its service calls jump by 50% over an average Friday. Roto-Rooter, which said nearly all of its service technicians will work on "Brown Friday," is having a little fun with a holiday-themed video as it tries to inform millennials about the brand. It is the company's second holiday video from Curiosity 360, which also did a Halloween one and is working on one for Christmas.

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Contributing: Jessica Wohl, E.J. Schultz

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