CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Buoyed by early success, Kraft Foods is putting more marketing muscle behind the repositioning of Philadelphia Cream Cheese as a versatile cooking ingredient, spending big to introduce a new product, Philadelphia Cooking Creme.
The reduced-fat, creamy and spoonable version of the iconic brand will hit stores early next year and be accompanied by one of the largest ad campaigns in company history, officials told Ad Age. "We're thinking this is going to be one of the biggest launches that cheese and dairy has ever had," said Adam Butler, brand manager for Philadelphia. "We're going big. We've got a huge marketing campaign scheduled against it."
That said, Kraft did not disclose the ad budget, other than to note that it will consume half of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese budget for next year.
The refrigerated creme will come in four flavors: original, Italian herb, savory garlic and Santa Fe. The campaign, by McGarryBowen, will promote the product as a sauce for chicken, vegetables or just about anything else you can put in a pan. The push will include print and TV ads, which are still in production and are scheduled to begin airing March 1. Commercials will focus on solving the "dinner dilemma," said Jill Baskin, Kraft's senior director of integrated communication for the cheese business unit.
Philadelphia brand cream cheese was first distributed in 1880 by a New York businessman and acquired by Kraft in 1928. The brand was marketed as a versatile cheese in the early years, but Kraft began positioning it as more of a bagel spread in the 1980s, Mr. Butler said.
Sales later flattened, as consumers began favoring low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins Diet, he said. "We had to look elsewhere for growth," he said, and we "wanted to start with changing behavior with marketing."
The push to return the cheese to its versatile roots gained steam this year with an online campaign called "Real Women of Philadelphia" by Publicis Groupe's Digitas and Eqal, a social entertainment company. Consumers submitted cream cheese recipes and celebrity chef Paula Deen hosted a cook-off in Savannah, Ga. Four winners won $25,000 apiece.
The site has drawn 1.3 million visits, according to Kraft, which says the promotion has boosted Philadelphia unit sales by 5% year to date though August.
Kraft hopes to build anticipation for the creme by first sending it to 2,000 consumers who sign up on the Real Women website. Users can submit pitches for an online commercial that will be produced by Eqal.Due to incorrect information given by Kraft, this story incorrectly stated that ad spending on the launch of Philadelphia Cooking Creme will consume half of all spending on the cheese and dairy division. The budget will instead be half of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese budget for next year.