Also Scores a Jello Win in 'Biggest Loser'

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The deal: Last year, Kraft Foods experimented with branded entertainment, turning to NBC shows like “American Dream” and “The Biggest Loser” to promote its Singles, Oreo and Jell-O brands.

The result: Branded entertainment has proved a new way for Kraft to enhance its traditional 30-second spots and raise awareness for its products.

Oreos were prominently featured in multiple episodes of 'American Dream.'

Some marketers have used branded entertainment as an entirely new way to promote their brands or products. But Kraft Foods is using it as a way to enhance, rather than replace, its traditional commercial spots.

Ammunition for the upfront

The company will head into the upfront armed with a slew of successes in branded integrations.

Last spring, Kraft went to NBC with some ideas of how it might best spend its incremental scatter market dollars to accomplish the objectives of some of its top brands including Kraft Singles and Oreo.

Together with Kraft’s media agency, MediaVest, Kraft and NBC decided on using the drama “American Dreams” as a venue to showcase both brands because of what Gary Gruneberg, director of media buying for Kraft, called its “strong family values” and because the show, set in the 1950s, shared the retro nature of both brands.

For Singles, Kraft used an episode last April in which the show’s son unwraps the cheese and makes a grilled cheese sandwich. In May, the series showed Oreo packaging in the background during one episode; a week later an entire scene highlighted the twist-dunk-and-lick equity of Oreo’s “Moments” ad campaign as the son and his father sat down to do just that with their Oreos.

Strong consumer recall

Working with IAG Research, Kraft determined that the integrations helped to drive strong recall of the commercials placed during the show, above the norms for that type of show, in large part, Mr. Gruneberg believes, because Kraft worked hard not to make the integrations intrusive.

“Making [integrations] feel organic is crucial if we’re going to be successful at this as an industry because if consumers feel it is becoming too over commercialized, they’ll tune out,” Mr. Gruneberg said.

It didn’t hurt that the Oreo integration aired during the series’ finale, which generated a 3 rating among Kraft’s target demographic, women 25-54, earning one of the series’ highest ratings. The show, which was brand friendly, integrating other marketers like Ford Motor Co. and Campbell’s Soup into episodes, ended its run last year.

Kraft also looked at moving beyond the 30-second spot for its Sugar Free Jell-O.

'Biggest Loser' campaign

Aiming to convey the brand’s Jell-O and pudding products as low-calorie desserts and snacks, Kraft also turned to NBC, this time for a series of integrations, Internet links and sponsorship of the grand prize for the network’s reality show “The Biggest Loser.”

Mr. Gruneberg said the flexible nature of reality shows makes it easier than scripted TV to build organic integrations, which Kraft did in the form of a “Fridge Frenzy” contest and the on-air cooking of its classic Pudding in a Cloud recipe as well as a number of smaller integrations, such as having “The Biggest Loser’s” finalists finding their fridges stocked with Jell-O products when they returned home. The status of Jell-O as the show’s official dessert and sponsor of the grand prize also gave the company a series of mentions throughout the season and a link between their Kraft Interactive Kitchens Web site and the site for “The Biggest Loser.”

Like the “American Dreams” efforts, IAG Research gave Kraft very positive results on the awareness and recall of its commercial spots during the show as well as strong linkage with the show above that of other reality-show norms. It didn’t hurt that the series finale, where Jell-O awarded the grand prize, saw a 9.4 rating among Jell-O’s targeted 25-54 female demographic, a rating that is “few and far between these days,” Mr. Gruneberg said.

More emphasis on branded entertainment planned

Don Miceli, director of media buying at Kraft, said that “looking at the environment, attrition of audience and new technologies like TiVo, we will look to branded integration to enhance our advertising.” Mr. Miceli said the integrations grew awareness and recall of the brands and allowed consumers to play back the brands' attributes, all of which are critical today.

Neither Mr. Miceli nor Mr. Gruneberg would disclose specific sales figures related to the placements in the programming. Nor would they quantify exactly how many similar initiatives they might embark on in the future. Mr. Gruneberg noted that such efforts are very labor intensive and require both Kraft and its agencies to tap into new expertise.

But, Mr. Miceli said, “this is a model we’ve gotten evidence does work in an organic sense and we will employ it again.”

Kraft declined to reveal just how much it spent on the integrations but the company spent $998 million in measured media (including the Internet) in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
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