For a company that sells some 50,000 products, Kraft Foods has relatively few brand mascots. There's the Kool-Aid Man, of course, and Mr. Peanut. Beyond that , however, the star power starts to dim. Ever heard of Cheesasaurus Rex? Or Polly-O Parrot?
But a new character is coming, one that the marketing giant hopes will be more A-list than D-list and whose quirky personality will be counted on to help launch one of Kraft 's biggest new products bets of the year. He is "Mel," a puppet created by Jim Henson Creature Shop and Droga5 to push a first-of -its kind refrigerated milk-and-granola bar called MilkBite that Kraft debuted in grocery stores late last year.
Mel is no Jolly Green Giant, that 's for sure. He stands only 6 inches tall, battles low self-esteem and will deal with identity issues in ads debuting next week. He's having an "existential crisis," said Michelle Lorge, the brand's senior manager. "He's trying to figure out what he is -- part milk, part granola," she said. And through that "self journey," he is "telling the product story," she added.
In one spot, Mel confronts his parents who are, naturally, a glass of milk and a bowl of granola. "You didn't think, did you," he tells them. "You didn't think what life was going to be like for me ... for your son!"
In another spot, he is on a date (with a human). "Your profile said you were milk," says the woman, "but you just look like granola." And that 's too much for Mel to take, so he slinks off in shame, as she yells, "I'm kinda into it."
The campaign is backed with significant spending, including ads on broadcast and network TV. Online executions include Mel's first-person "video diaries" on the brand's Facebook page.