The venerable $500 million-plus brand has seen only modest gains of late. But Kraft believes a raft of new advertising and innovation could drive sales not only for the base cream cheese business but also for extensions of the franchise into other value-added convenience categories.
The overall brand, recently repackaged and improved, will get a new ad theme this year, "When it's Philadelphia, it's heaven," from WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Chicago. The print effort breaks in February and TV breaks later this year. The buy marks a sharp increase over the $7 million Kraft put toward the brand during the first 10 months of last year, as measured by Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.
In addition to the bolstered spending, Kraft this month will launch Philadelphia To Go Bagel & Cream Cheese. The two-pack of bagels and cream cheese will retail for $1.99.
Refrigerated-bagel sales, including Aurora Foods' category-leading Lender's, have declined recently due to the popularity of fresh bagels. But Jane Hilk, Philadelphia senior category business director, said Kraft's move is part of a broader "to-go strategy."
The bagel and cream cheese line, which will initially launch in grocery stores in the East and South, is a first foray into the grab-and-go breakfast segment, and "if it is successful, we will look at all the ways people use cream cheese and try to make them more convenient," Ms. Hilk said. Bagels were an obvious choice because of Kraft data showing that 35% of Philadelphia's volume is for use with bagels, and Ms. Hilk said the extended shelf life of its bagels and the Philadelphia brand name will help it compete. Lender's, meanwhile, is likewise trying to extend its equity with the recent launch of Lender's cream cheese.
Kraft will support the new To Go line with a slew of out-of-home media beginning in March. Billboards, transit signs and even a ferry wrap will feature headlines such as "Portable Paradise," and "Wherever, Whenever, Amen." TV ads and newspaper inserts will also tout the new convenient breakfast alternative. Kraft is readying a single-serve version of the line that it plans to market in convenience stores later in the year.