LifeSavers effort gets personality

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Under new parent Kraft Foods, the No. 1 non-chocolate candy brand, LifeSavers, gets a new lease on life with an edgy print and outdoor campaign bowing in February and a push behind a new sour teen-targeted variety, Kickerz.

The campaign, "LifeSavers for everyone," plays off the personality traits assigned to LifeSavers flavors in consumer research, among them cherry as "Ms. Popularity" and lime as "The Outsider." Kickerz, the first product from LifeSavers specifically targeted to teens with varieties such as sour apple and cherry, will be billed as "The Troublemaker." Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, New York, handles.

"The new creative is designed to leverage the emotional connection that consumers have with LifeSavers," said Michelle Buck, exec VP-general manager of confection at Kraft. In a survey of how consumers eat their LifeSavers, Kraft determined that "people have feelings about each piece," Ms. Buck said, and even distinguished a stark contrast between "biters" and "suckers." (Biters were found to be men, typically Republican, with a college degree or higher earning $60,000 or more, while suckers are usually women, generally Democrats with two years or less of college, earning $40,000 or less.)


With the new effort, Kraft hopes to reinvigorate its top confection trademark, sales of which totaled $224 million last year in supermarkets, drugstores and mass merchandisers, according to Information Resources Inc. While the LifeSavers Creme Savers line continues to flourish, up nearly 14% to $71 million, the core brand fell 13% to $38 million, according to IRI figures, which exclude newsstands and convenience stores.

LifeSavers received $20 million in media from January through October of last year, $13 million of that on TV, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. The "personalities" campaign will initially consist of print and outdoor media that, like the new creative and the Kickerz launch, helps broaden the brand's reach to the 18 and over set, Ms. Buck said. Despite the lack of a broadcast component, Ms. Buck said the company would spend "sufficiently" to support this new campaign, which it considers a priority.

Kraft has been a player in confections more internationally than domestically since its acquisition in the early `90s of strong European chocolate brands such as Toblerone, Milka and Terry's, and mints brand Altoids. The company has in recent years begun to build those businesses in the U.S., with the famous "Curiously Strong" print and outdoor effort from Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett making Altoids a household name here.

Kraft recently sold the Farleys and Sathers confections businesses it acquired as part of Nabisco. But it plans to leverage the LifeSavers trademark much in the same way it will push other strong former Nabisco brands such as Oreo and Ritz that fall under its new Nabisco Biscuit & Snacks unit headed by Mike Polk (AA, Nov. 12).

The media shift is directly in line with Kraft's corporate mandate to shift its overall budget away from TV and toward more targeted vehicles (AA, Nov. 5), but Ms. Buck said the decision stemmed from the creative, which played better in those media.

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