CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- If you're having a hard time growing sales for a mature brand, here's an idea: Give your most-loyal consumers reason to use it more. It's worked for Kraft, which has posted solid sales gains on Philadelphia Cream Cheese, a brand that had been essentially flat since 2005.
By encouraging uses beyond bagel spread and cheesecake ingredient Kraft boosted Philly sales 8% since the campaign launched last September. Not bad for a brand that's done $720 million in sales over the last 52 weeks in the U.S. alone.
"We are very encouraged with what we've been able to get done," said Howard Friedman, VP-marketing in Kraft's cheese and dairy businesses. "A lot of it has been done by trial and error."
Also helping was seriously stepped-up advertising support: Kraft more than doubled measured-media spending on Philly last year, according to Kantar Media, to $20 million from $8 million in 2008.
The spots, featuring the catchy if not insidious "Spread a Little Love" jingle (also available as a ringtone), depict consumers adding Philly to a variety of dishes. Mr. Friedman said Kraft started with some quick "how-to" videos last spring, teaching consumers how to use the brand in dips and alfredo sauce. The resulting 250,000 downloads was overwhelming, given it hadn't received a major ad push and was seeded only on the Kraft website. The marketer tasked then-new agency McGarryBowen, Chicago, to develop the campaign around usage occasions.
Then Kraft enlisted Paula Deen. Together with Digitas and Eqal, a social-entertainment company, Kraft developed a promotion called "The Real Women of Philadelphia," a video contest to find the best consumer-generated recipes using Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
Ms. Deen introduced the contest on YouTube -- a video that's gotten 10 million views -- and Kraft launched a website where consumers can upload their video entries. There are a series of instructional clips, including tips for cooking videos and how to dress for TV. Since launching in late March, the site has had 550,000 unique visitors and there have been 3,600 recipe submissions. Kraft estimates total impressions at 97 million.
Next up, Philly will whittle its entries to a list of 16 finalists -- four each making a dessert, side, entrée or appetizer -- to participate in a cook-off in Savannah on June 30. The winner gets $25,000 and her own web series. Kraft will also tap its finalists to help assemble a consumer-generated cookbook, featuring even more things to do with cream cheese.