KraftFoods has hired Droga5 as the creative agency for its newest snack brand -- a first-of -its-kind refrigerated milk-and-granola bar, called MilkBite, that the food giant has characterized as one of its "big bets" for 2012.
"With MilkBite, we are creating a new genre of snacks that combines the convenience of the bar category with the wholesome goodness of dairy to fit the on-the-go lifestyle of today's increasingly health-conscious consumers," Michelle Lorge, senior brand manager for MilkBite, said in a statement to Ad Age .
Kraft -- which did not conduct a formal review for the brand -- rolled out MilkBite at Walmart this fall but plans a national launch in January that is expected to include TV ads, digital, social media, sampling and in-store marketing.
The move comes as the marketer looks to gain a bigger foothold in the dairy-snacking category, which includes string cheese, yogurt and other dairy-inspired snacks, such as yogurt bars. But unlike most other bars, MilkBites are in the dairy case. Kraft is plugging the offering as a wholesome snack with real milk and the calcium equivalent of an eight-ounce glass of milk. The bars come in a variety of flavors, including chocolate, mixed berry, peanut butter and oatmeal-raisin. At Walmart, the bars were first sold as "KraftMilk and Granola Bars," but the "MilkBite" name is being added as part of the national launch, Kraft said.
Kraft sees an opening in the category. In a job posting for a "senior brand manager innovation-dairy snacking," the company described dairy snacking as "somewhat commoditized, with no clear innovation leader." It added that "there is an opportunity for Kraft to capitalize and create a true leadership position in this consumer space." In the posting, Kraft called MilkBite a "2012 big bet" and said the innovation manager will be responsible for building a "robust new product pipeline for 2013."
This is good news for Droga5, an independent shop that made its way onto the Kraft roster about a year ago as agency-of -record for the company's line of Mediterranean foods, Athenos. The agency was picked for Athenos in a process that Kraft SVP-Marketing Strategy and Communications Dana Anderson called "Operation Spark," in which Kraft gathers new ideas to market its smaller brands.
"Athenos was assigned to them, and the experiment went so well that we decided to have them continue as the AOR on Athenos," Ms. Lorge said. "As a result of their good work [on that ] and the needs of the new brand ... we decided to have Droga work on MilkBite."
MilkBite's launch comes as marketers continue to look for new innovations in the typically high-margin snack category.
"Snacking will continue to grow in 2012 as people move away from the three square meals per day to smaller, more dense minimeals, or snacks, throughout the day," said food expert Phil Lempert, who runs SupermarketGuru.com. "While snacks have typically been sold in center-store and at the checkout, look for distribution to expand into refrigerated sections -- especially in c-stores, dollar stores and drug chains as these formats continue to expand their food offerings."