For Kraft Foods Group, J-E-L-L-O has spelled disappointment of late. The brand -- once known for fun advertising starring the likes of Jack Benny and Bill Cosby -- has struggled to find its identity in recent years, while marketing reductions have been met with sales declines.
Kraft hopes to reverse the slide starting Monday with a new campaign the marketer says will return the brand's focus to families and fun, ending the recent adult-targeted approach.
The goal is to reestablish Jell-O's "core purpose" of "food for fun," said Dan O'Leary, Kraft's senior director of marketing for desserts. Marketing spending on Jell-O will double as part of the new effort, which includes TV, print and digital, he said.
Rick Shea, a former Kraft exec and president of Shea Marketing, said Jell-O is an "iconic brand that has lost relevancy with the consumer due to changing purchase and eating habits. Dessert consumption is down and they have not really made the transition to snack."
The new push is part of Kraft's larger strategy of reinvesting in its stable of classic food and beverage brands that executives feel were neglected when they were part of the larger Kraft Foods Inc., which split in two last October, forming Kraft Foods Group and the candy and snack-focused Mondelez International.
Kraft has already launched new campaigns for classics like Planters, Velveeta and Kool-Aid in recent months, but Jell-O has been slower out of the gate, as the company took months studying how to position the brand. "I should have had [new Jell-O marketing] a year ago, but it takes time to develop great advertising," Kraft CEO Tony Vernon said on a recent earnings call.
Sales suffered as measured media spending fell by more than half to $15 million last year, according to Kantar Media. In the year ending July 14, Kraft's gelatin dessert mix sales fell 0.45% to $154 million, while refrigerated pudding, mousse and gelatin sales dropped 19% to $337 million, according to IRI.