Don Miceli has to admit that he is more of a "utilitarian" Internet user than someone who just tools around in cyberspace for fun. "I leave that to my children," admits the 57-year-old senior VP-global media for Kraft Foods. But despite that personal reluctance, Mr. Miceli has grasped how relevant the Internet and other "next generation media" are to the global food behemoth. One of his priorities has been to broaden Kraft's TV-heavy media buys into more integrated efforts.
"Things are changing exponentially, and that necessitates change," Mr. Miceli says. He points with pride to the dramatic change in Kraft's media mix over the last year or so from an outlay where 85% went to TV and 15% to other components to a more balanced mix where as much as 35% is spent on other media forms outside of traditional TV.
Still, he notes, between fragmentation and new technology there are new forms even within TV itself so that media buys can more effectively reach consumers.
Surrounding the launch earlier this year of its South Beach Diet line, for example, Kraft developed programming for cable network Lifetime featuring the diet's founder, Dr. Arthur Agatston, as well as various South Beach dieters. The "showmercials" ran during commercial pods surrounding Lifetime movies. In another branded entertainment move, Kraft also featured Oreo during an episode of NBC's "American Dreams," tying into the nostalgic nature of the show with a segment that showed a father talking with his son about the right way to eat an Oreo.
"The [`American Dreams'] effort was a great fit since it was done in a relevant way in an organic environment," Mr. Miceli says. Consumers responded, offering that the segment brought back memories from their youth, he says. "It's a simple way of really relating to the consumer, and more of those approaches are going to be required if you're going to play in TV."
Mr. Miceli has been in his role of top media dog at Kraft for eight years and, he says, the company has been "dabbling" in next-generation media since the '90s when AT&T and TeleCommunications Inc. were entrenched in a subscriber war. At that point, he says, Kraft began to test "fairly rudimentary capabilities," but since then the world has changed dramatically with all the media clutter and the influx of new technology including video-on-demand and DVRs.
It's a long way from Mr. Miceli's early days fresh out of Nichols College in Massachusetts when he determined reach and frequencies by hand as a media researcher at Young & Rubicam. But, he says, running an audience measurement group "gave me a strong foundation in all the media tools and approaches to measuring audiences," something still important, albeit handled now in a different way for Kraft. Mr. Miceli honed his skills via media planning at Y&R, Bristol-Myers and at what at the time was called General Foods (now Kraft) where he has worked his way up from associate media manager.
Recently, Mr. Miceli and his team have spent a lot of time analyzing on a brand-by-brand basis the media consumption habits of target consumers, working with media agency MediaVest and Kraft's internal market research group.
Barbara Singer, director-strategic media information, says that "anytime we're talking about any typical media schedule, Don always asks, `What else? What's above and beyond and a way of using the medium differently to make sure we break through?' "
Beyond charging Kraft employees with the task of uncovering new channels and touch points, Mr. Miceli has sought help from outside consortiums to determine consumer acceptance of new technologies. Kraft is working with Ad Lab group and is engaged in a study with Australia's Murdoch University dubbed "Beyond 30," referring, of course, to the 30-second spot. "We have to think as media practitioners in a broader sense of what media is," he says. Even if some of that media still eludes the top brass.