Kraft Provides Recipe for Mobile-Marketing Success

An Ad Age Editorial

Published on .

Though the maker of green Jell-O might not strike anyone as a mobile-marketing pioneer, Kraft Food has succeeded in developing its own killer app for the iPhone, providing other marketers with some valuable lessons.

The iFood Assistant is an iPhone app that serves up recipes for users -- recipes that are made with Kraft products and are delivered with ads for Kraft products. Even better? Interested consumers like it so much, they're willing to pay 99¢ for it. It's become so popular that it's now one of the iPhone's 100 most-popular-paid apps.

Those in the mobile-marketing world have been proclaiming this will be their year for quite some time now. And, yet, we wait. Surely, with the iPhone and other smartphones hitting the scene, last year was as good a year as any. Still, mobile marketing hasn't become the hot new trend its proponents would like it to be.

That may be because most of the plans discussed are interruptive marketing, which, in case you've been living under a rock, is so 20th century. If consumers are signing up for do-not-call lists and dropping landlines to avoid telemarketers, what makes anyone think they're going to want text messages or voicemail making their phones vibrate in the middle of the day? Hope has been pinned on the next generation of cellphone users, who'll supposedly put up with interruptive messaging in exchange for cheaper services or free phones. Let us know how that one works out. Even if they do go for it, how long before such messaging becomes little more than banner web ads, which are practically invisible to anyone under 25?

So what did Kraft do right? It provided something useful, something consumers can access when they want to -- rather than something blasted at them at random times during the day or just because they happen to be in the grocery store.

In return, Kraft gets goodwill, sales, ad impressions, a database that will allow for better targeting -- oh, and brand association with Apple.

Surprisingly, some have groused in our comments section that Kraft is somehow doing something wrong by charging for an app, promoting its own items in recipes and advertising on it. Such people may want to reconsider their choice of industry.

If a food marketer getting people to opt-in and pay for a service that doubles as an ad vehicle and database isn't smart marketing, then nothing is.

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