Posts Tagged ‘kraft’

Back to Marketing Basics at the Blackberry Farm

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

This year I started a new tradition with our Strategic Planning Group at Bridge Worldwide. We’ve been taking the afternoon of the first Friday of each month to get out of the office and experience something together. While it’s great to do some team bonding, the main reason for these events is to give ourselves some firsthand experience in something new that might spark insights and ideas for the work we do every day. After all, marketing to me is really about figuring out how the world works and what people want. So by getting some new life experiences and seeing people in different situations we can be better at our jobs. Last week I decided to take the team blackberry picking, and the purpose of this post is to share a few things that we took away from the experience.

We spent last Friday afternoon across the river in northern Kentucky at Barker’s Blackberry Hill Winery. It is literally a mom and pop farm located past a maze of gravel farm roads that barely register on Google Maps. We all eventually managed to find the place and discovered a lovely few acres of blackberry vines at the top of a small hill. The older couple who runs the farm pointed us to a pile of buckets and boxes and set us loose picking up and down the rows of fruit. Within minutes our hands were purple from picking the delicious fruit and—being strategists—we all started working out the best way to find and pick the most/best blackberries possible. We shouted tips and discoveries over the vines and smiled as some of our team members’ children shouted with glee. After picking for about an hour we headed back to the small farm shack to weigh our berries and pay for hauls. I think the price was something ridiculously cheap, like $2 for a bucket, and $2 per pound of berries. As we left, the owners gave us printouts of blackberry storage tips and handed out Popsicles for the children.

It was a great afternoon, and we finished it off by debriefing over beers on the backyard deck of one of our team members. There were a few key takeaways that we all agreed on:

  • There is something powerful in the “return to basics.” The more digital we become as a society, the more people will start to feel a desire to “unplug” and have some RL (Real Life) meet-ups and hobbies. And the more things we can consume cheaply, the more people will start to feel a desire to invest time and money in things that are rare and antique, and that take time, skill, and patience to attain. We see this in the rise of knitting shops, organic farming, backyard chicken coops, and letter writing on hand-printed stationery. An interest in growing and picking your own produce is a great example of this return to basics. We enjoyed seeing our hands turn purple and us getting lost on gravel roads just to get a few pounds of fruit.
  • Experiences are everything. One of the quotes that I threw out a lot for our team is that, “For the rest of your lives we will remember going blackberry picking together as a team activity.” I have often written in this blog about the impact of experiences, and data that shows how people value and recall experiences at very high levels. Building on the previous point, at a time when anyone can get anything they want online or in stores, we are compelled to look for the new and the rare in experiences that are truly unique and more memorable than any mere purchase.
  • It is something children and parents can enjoy together. As a parent I can tell you that it seems increasingly difficult to find activities that everyone fully enjoys together. I feel like I have to drag my kids to my favorite restaurants, and they have to drag me to watch the latest kiddie movie at the theater. But blackberry picking is great fun for anyone, and something even more enjoyable when you do it together. One parent’s son said that blackberry picking was like “hunting for treasure” and I think he really nailed something deep for me, too. There is something deep and timeless about exploring the outdoors and discovering the treasures of nature—whether it is a plump blackberry, a turtle in the creek, or that perfect climbing tree.

Of course we also gave some thought to how brands might embrace small farms and handpicked produce to advance their marketing objectives. A few brands are already getting close to this area. For example, Kraft’s Triscuit brand is starting do things to embrace and encourage the home farming movement. At this website, the brand shows a map of home and community farms throughout the country. It is also teaming with an organization called Urban Farming to start 50 community farms, and included seeds in specially marked boxes. Meanwhile, the Cascadian Farms brand at General Mills, which is one of the largest organic food companies, has taken to the Facebook world of FarmVille, where people can grow virtual, branded organic crops.

I think there is a big opportunity for a leading food brand to do more to help create experiences like ours. What if a brand such as Cascadian Farms, Green Giant, or Birds Eye actually discovered small farms near major markets like the one we visited and partnered with them to encourage more people to have a picking experience? There could be various ways that the brand could partner with local farmers—perhaps investing a few dollars to improve their operations or upgrade their websites. (This one for our blackberry farm is broken, for example.)

But the bigger lesson here is that we all need to get away from our desks together once in a while and return to the RL. You just might discover a new way to build your business, and yourself.

Kraft Continues to Expand As a Media Company

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009


As our customers turn away from the traditional model of interruptive, impression-based advertising, most companies have chosen to continue to spend most of their marketing dollars in this way, while they hope that some scalable, new-media alternative takes hold quickly. But a handful of organizations are not waiting for others to build the next model. Instead, they are investing their money and time into creating new media platforms in which their marketing itself adds value to consumers’ lives. In my book, I share specific examples of how brands as diverse as Nike and The Partnership for a Drug-Free America have shifted their approach this way over years of testing and learning. Today, I wanted to share another killer example: Kraft.

In both my book and this blog I have written about how Kraft is producing some of the most meaningful marketing in the CPG business. The company has created an impressive website with everything from money-saving recipes to instructional cooking videos. The company has at least 15 million people in its email database. And who could forget its recent foray into iPhone apps, where its $.99 iFood tool blew away expectations and continues to serve as one of the best examples of useful, branded mobile marketing. In fact, the company recently announced that it will launch a 2.0 version and says that 60 percent of people use the app regularly, which is impressive given that only 30 percent of apps are used after the first day they are purchased.

Increasingly, Kraft marketing efforts are looking like the central strategy of this CPG leader, rather than just a series of experiments. Last week Advertising Age shared a video segment of the Kraft VP for Global Media Services, Mark Stewart, in which he shared a few words about how the company is becoming a media platform. The entire video is worth watching, but some of my favorite quotes include:

  • “We’re in the food solutions business.”
  • “We’re a scaled marketer and a scaled publisher.”
  • “In this new world… brands have to stand for more than the functionality of their product. You have to provide real solutions and real services.”
  • “The future is really about how do you add utility to your brands, which is way beyond what the product delivers.”

For perspective, these words are coming from a person who spends $800 million in measured media each year (i.e., putting Kraft brand ads on others’ media platforms). This means that all of these in-house efforts still only represent a fraction of consumer marketing, but it also shows how far Kraft could go if it started carving a large chunk of this spending for its owned-media business. And the company certainly appears to be headed in that direction. It’s once-free magazine for database members, Kraft Food & Family, is now becoming a subscription-based magazine. And the company is launching other branded apps, including something called “Triscuit Small Plates”—a partnership with Wine Enthusiast that gives tips on pairing wines with snacks and cheese.

This move to a meaningful media+marketing strategy fits well with the overall company strategy. With its focus on premium food brands and the wide range of categories in its stable, a scalable marketing platform makes a lot of sense. Ironically, while Kraft was expanding its media platform last week, another major multi-brand CPG marketer, Procter & Gamble, learned that its owned media platform was being canceled. Its long-running show, As the World Turns, was shuttered by CBS. Recall that the soap opera was invented by P&G as a platform for radio advertising for its brands in 1933.

Why would one owned-media effort rise while another falls? I’m sure part of the story is that tastes are changing in favor of digital tools and are moving away from daytime dramas, but I think the bigger story is that Kraft’s new efforts put the brand in the center of the meaningful content, while soap operas are merely a package for interruptive advertising. Interestingly, while its soap opera business has been failing, P&G is making new investments in sites such as, which offers pet health information and provides a meaningful marketing platform for its Iams brand (which has health benefits and claims). This changing of the guard it but one example of how the world is moving toward Marketing with Meaning, and I expect both Kraft and P&G to continue to lead the way in the years ahead.

Selling Your Marketing—The Holy Grail

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

The most intriguing story I heard last week was that Apple has made somewhere between $20 million and $45 million in revenue from the 1 billion iPhone apps that have been downloaded from its store to date. In blog posts and Tweets about this estimate, the most common reaction was “That’s all they’ve made?” Since most apps are free, and Apple gets only a 30 percent cut of any revenue from paid-for apps, this seems like relative nickels in the grand scheme of things.

But one @reply from my Twitter feed, Rob Saker, had a great point that’s been sticking with me:

“I’d love [$20 million] with no inventory, spoilage, and few promotional costs… They may have found the Holy Grail of marketing, promotion that in itself generates revenue.”

To paraphrase Rob, Apple’s true take from the app store is much higher considering that these apps are the best marketing possible for the pricey iPhones and revenue cut from AT&T service (30 million of which are now in the market). The ulitmate test of Marketing with Meaning is when people actually pay for your marketing. And I believe marketers must set this as a new goal and revenue source for the work they do.

iPhone apps offer the perfect way for companies to create marketing that in some ways pays for itself.  Kraft’s very successful and slick iFood app is probably the best-known example. At the iMedia conference in March, the brand owner of the program, Ed Kaczmarek, said that Kraft chose to charge $.99 for the tool because they felt it was valuable, and putting a price on it actually helped communicate that value to consumers. That’s right-charging for the marketing made it even more valuable and meaningful. The result: iFood hit its three-year download goal in a matter of weeks.

At Bridge Worldwide, we’re developing a few iPhone app ideas, and my strong guidance to clients is to charge at least $.99 for them. Not only do I believe this adds to the value impression, but business managers start to get excited when new revenue comes in. Even if it doesn’t add a lot to the bottom line, the money that comes from selling apps can be directed toward further development and marketing of the app, which, in turn, can drive greater app quality and total downloads.

Another related and exciting piece of news last week was that Amazon has opened up a beta program to allow bloggers to get paid for people who subscribe to their blogs via the Kindle. Subscriptions are priced up to $1.99 per month, and the blogger gets 30 percent of the revenue. Of course, this is small beans right now, as there are likely not even 1 million Kindles on the market yet. But, again, we’re starting to see a model in which people are willing and able to spend a little for blog content. And blog content is almost always considered “marketing.”

In a recent post on his blog, John Gerzema makes a great point about consumer mentality of micropayments:

“The luxury of micropayment pricing is that a consumer can instantly make a low-risk value judgment. Limiting risk allows for product experimentation leading to little failures or successes and the consequent expansion of brand loyalty.”

It’s still too early to make this claim across the board, but I believe most iPhone and Kindle owners do not blink at being asked to spend less than a buck on impulse for a useful service. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that killer apps such as Facebook and Pandora for iPhone do not even charge a penny for their services. Both lack a viable business model today, and it’s so easy and cheap to make a buck through the app store. But I was also disappointed to see that Nationwide doesn’t charge for its very cool Car Accident Toolkit app, and Bloomberg—a company that charges thousands of dollars for its proprietary information and terminals—is giving its milk away for free as well. The industry actually needs these big players to start charging for apps in order to set the bar. Let’s not lose this opportunity to convince people that free is not the standard!

I’m very excited to see where brands play in the world of charging for their content. I’m so excited that I just signed up for the Kindle blog program, and invite those of you who are Kindle owners to subscribe to Marketing with Meaning now. I promise that every dollar that comes will be put right back into making this blog bigger and better. In fact, I will send a free Tide Loads of Hope T-shirt to the first person who subscribes and emails me the receipt!

Takeaways from the iMedia Breakthrough Summit #imediasummit

Friday, March 27th, 2009

After learning a lot at the Economist Marketing Forum in San Francisco last week, I had a chance to head in the complete opposite direction for the iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Fort Myers, Florida. As usual, the iMedia folks hosted a great event that brought together people from the brand, agency, and media sides of digital marketing. Once again my notebook was full of some great insights and ideas that only seem to result from being there. Of course, my goal is to provide you, dear readers, with as many of those insights and ideas as possible in this blog—with a meaningful marketing spin, of course.

Overall, the two main focus area of the event were Twitter and mobile. It seems that the consensus from all was that mobile is close to going mainstream, while Twitter was the exciting new tool that promises to explode. Here are some of the specific takeaways that I collected from the guest speakers:

Christi Day, Emerging Media Manager, Southwest Airlines

I don’t think I have seen anyone who has a brand personality that better matches the brand she works on than Christi Day. Her goal was to make us smile as well as learn as she described how she got Southwest into the world of Twitter. She and her team in media relations first tried out Twitter on a lark in July 2007 and quickly gained a following. Eventually it became so successful and followed that Christi brought in people from both media relations and customer service. Instead of outsourcing Twitter responses to an agency or team, Christi takes the responsibility for herself, 24-7. Her tips for other brands joining the Twitterati: (1) Be Fun—connect to events, stories from real flights, and viral videos; (2) Be Real—show your personality and what’s going on in your real life; and (3) Be Relevant—provide information and notices, and promote fare sales. I was a little surprised to hear that Southwest is not tracking how the Twitter account leads to actual sales, but that is in the works. You can follow Christi at

Ed Kaczmarek, Director of Innovation, Kraft

Ed is the newest marketing rock star in my mind after hearing his story of the launch of the Kraft iFood app for the iPhone. It is already a huge success according to Kraft’s expectations, with downloads in a few weeks that met its three-year objective, and PR coverage valued in the millions of dollars. Ed talked about how the iFood app “brings us closer to becoming an indispensable food resource for consumers’ meal planning, preparation, and shopping needs.” This is a perfect example of how a great brand purpose leads to marketing with meaning.

I loved hearing some inside lessons about how Ed’s team got this remarkable innovation through the company by “keeping it under the radar,” and that a big key to success was leveraging Kraft’s database of 15 million consumers to drive initial awareness (another benefit of a decade of meaningful relationship marketing). Another huge help was Apple’s decision to feature the app on its App Store front page, which drove traffic “better than any paid marketing.” The tool is catching hold with new consumer targets including Gen-Y and Men (35 percent of users, “far above” the percentage in the Kraft database).

This is just the beginning for iFood. Ed alluded to upgrades on the way and said that it was built to be a platform for retail customers and even external marketers. Even working with competitors is possible, as Ed said that, “If we really want to fulfill our goal, we have to allow others in.”

Lara Green, Digital Marketing Manager, CoverGirl and Max Factor (P&G)

Perhaps the quote of the event was Lara’s claim that “mobile is no longer innovation” for her brands at P&G. In other words, it’s just the best way to reach the young girls and women that her brands target—and they have done enough experimentation to feel comfortable with this space. Another key to success is the fact that mobile has gotten a strong read in marketing mix modeling, which is the single best way to compare ROI across media alternatives. As evidence of the mainstream nature of mobile for CoverGirl, the brand actually has four mobile focus areas: (1) a strong WAP site; (2) a text-to-sample program; (3) a mobile CRM program; and (4) integration with other marketing activities. I was a little surprised to hear that a beauty product can “look good” in the small space of mobile screens, but its banners are getting 1 percent to 2 percent click rates, and when text-to-sample offers appear in print magazines, the supplies are exhausted in days. Another great example of meaningful marketing from CoverGirl in mobile is a ColorMatch tool that helps people make the right choice on the go and at the retail point-of-purchase.

Dr. Spencer Wells, Genographic Project Director, National Geographic

iMedia consistently mixes in pure digital marketing presentations with diverse speakers such as Nolan Bushnell, the father of video games. I specifically enjoyed the presentation by Dr. Wells, who is in the middle of a long-term project to categorize and glean human migration insights by sampling the DNA of thousands of men and women around the world. The Genographic Project is a long-term investment by National Geographic and partner brands such as IBM. It began way back in 2005 and is now starting to spin off insights. I loved the fact that National Geographic is funding the project and building personal connections by selling a $100 kit that allows anyone to submit his or her DNA and receive insights into family history. According to Dr. Wells, his management worried that no one would buy the kits, and hoped to sell 10,000; but more than 297,000 have been ordered so far.

So, another great collection of insights, some of which will make their way to my upcoming book. For more, check out the Twitter stream here. I hope to see you there next year.

uPumpItUp: Social Motivation from Crystal Light

Monday, July 14th, 2008

One of my favorite topics to cover is anything that my loyal readers suggest. Last week, “doohan” sent me a link to uPumpItUp, a program from the Crystal Light brand. I would call uPumpItUp a “platform for social reinforcement of habit change” targeted at women. It is certainly meaningful marketing, and an interesting play for Crystal Light.

The site itself challenges women to “inspire each other to do more of the things that make us feel great, and help share that good feeling with others.” The program is “hosted” by Mandy Moore. It revolves around four categories and includes video hosts who are experts in each: Connect (share moments with the people you love), Express (upgrade your style), Inspire (“tune out distractions and tune into yourself”), and Explore (find new passions and be spontaneous).

Each category includes some short suggestions and ideas; but the focus is on member-generated challenges. And each challenge has multiple steps to ease members into the change. For example, on the Explore page, there are 152 members of the “Backyard Explorer: Become a Tourist in Your Hometown” challenge. Steps include: “Do Your Research” and “Explore a New Neighborhood.” Such challenges are another example of building meaningful connections in a social setting. People are often more motivated to change if others (even strangers) commit to joining them.

Overall, this feels like a meaningful marketing program. There are more than 50,000 consumers in the program, and I see a good amount of activity in the challenge membership and comment areas. These comments are very positive and I imagine that a good number of consumers who choose to engage with the program are making small steps to “pump up” their lives.

On the other hand, I see some room for improvement. First, the videos are a bit over-the-top and slow to load, and can be annoying for return visitors. There are other issues in how the information is presented and accessed. These issues really speak to the need of websites to prioritize User Experience over creative bells and whistles. In tools like this, people want easily accessible information. It’s why “ugly” sites such as Craigslist score so well with visitors. This is one of those areas of expertise that brand managers are just beginning to understand, and where many digital agencies are behind in building. (Yes, I’ve become a UX snob and we’ve got a great crew.)

The site is also missing critical aspects of Web 2.0 that make these tools more useful. I see no RSS feeds, downloadable content, or the ability to integrate with existing social networks such as Facebook. The hosts’ content is flat and unchanging. You can’t even search the site. I believe these are missed opportunities, and leave members wondering if this will go away in six months. The people who would participate in such groups have come to expect these features.

I think the jury is out on the business impact of uPumpItUp. The Crystal Light brand does not seem well integrated into the program. Branding is missing, aside from a logo at the bottom (below the fold) and a design element of colored liquid flowing across the page. I’m dying for Crystal Light to explain why it is hosting this program, and why it is a fit with the brand. On the positive side, it seems to have gotten a lot of press from leading magazines and online properties.

I think uPumpItUp is a good step into the world of meaningful marketing for Crystal Light. But I hope this is the first baby step toward real change, rather than a short-term promotion that will shut down when Mandy Moore’s contract expires.