CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Kraft Singles is pulling an April Fool's Day joke in December, armed with the insight that the product's dairy-based recipe gives it a boost with Hispanic consumers.
Kraft timed today's launch of a 39-week partnership with Univision to the Dia de los Santos Inocentes, the Hispanic April Fool's Day that falls on Dec. 28 and features a long tradition of pranks and jokes in Latin America and Spain. In that spirit, Singles is coordinating a fake celebrity news story on Univision.com that diverts consumers to Kraft's "Don't Be Fooled" website.
Working with Lopez Negrete Communications, the independent Hispanic shop that won the Singles business in 2009, Kraft discovered that the real milk in its artificial cheese product gives the brand a leg up over low-priced rivals, which make their products with oil and water.
"It's a great opportunity to play up our message of don't be fooled by imitation and celebrity news stories," said Singles Brand Manager Clayton Wai-Poi. The media strategy is also clever, reaching Hispanic consumers at the site many of them turn to for news and entertainment.
The fake story breaks the news that the current Miss Universe, Venezuela's Stefania Fernandez, is giving up her title in favor of the first runner-up, Ada Aimee de la Cruz from the Dominican Republic. Supposedly Ms. Fernandez's boyfriend is jealous of pageant co-owner Donald Trump, and the whole contest might have been rigged by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. The story even quotes Osmel Sousa, head of the Miss Venezuela Organization, saying it's OK if Venezuela, renowned for turning out beauty queens, loses a crown: "We already have like 500."
'Don't Be Fooled'
Consumers who want to play along with the gag can post the fake news on their own Facebook page, and try to trick their friends into clicking on the link. Kraft is also advertising heavily on Univision's site. Moving forward, Singles will do "Don't Be Fooled" tie-ins on some of Univision's most popular shows, including "Sabado Gigante" and "Escandalo TV."
On Monday afternoon, the fake story ranked at the top of Univision.com's most commented-on stories of the day. Some of the commenters, who clearly hadn't read as far as Univision's "It's a joke" disclaimer toward the end of the story, carried on a lively debate about whether Ms. Fernandez should have resigned and whether the first runner-up was worthy to take over.
The Singles effort is Kraft's first concerted attempt to craft a campaign around Hispanic insights, in this case about ingredients and wanting to know that Singles contain dairy. Mr. Wai-Poi said that previous work for the Hispanic market has been "quite inconsistent," often just translating general-market campaigns into Spanish.
This time the results speak for themselves. The brand had been losing share during the recession to lower-priced products, but the "Don't Be Fooled" campaign, centering around dairy-based singles versus the oil-centric variety, resulted in a 12% increase in Singles sales among Hispanic consumers after Spanish-language spots broke in July 2009. General-market sales grew by 4%. In one Spanish-language spot, animated ants at a family picnic spurn competitor's cheese slices for Kraft Singles. Another spot put a new twist on Kraft's "pour shot" by contrasting milk pouring from one glass to form a Kraft Singles slice while oil and water are poured from the other glass.
As a result, Kraft turned Lopez Negrete's insights over to general-market creative agency Mcgarrybowen. This practice is growing increasingly common as marketers prepare for a more diverse general market. Major brands have begun leading general-market campaigns with ethnic insights.
Moving forward, Mr. Wai-Poi said, Singles will conduct more outreach to Hispanic consumers. Imitation cheese already comprises about 10% of Hispanic cheese purchases, and that's about 50% more than the general market. But they're not all buying brand name. Right now the Hispanic market constitutes about 13% of the brand's sales, a little below the 15% of the U.S. population of Hispanic descent.