Kraft’s Low-Fat Social Media Launch: A Case Study

26 09 2008

I suspect that the rumored experiments with social media by CPG companies are a lot like the talk around freshman year high school lockers about sex: there’s probably a lot more talk than action.

By contrast, this Kraft case study is the first one I’ve ever seen for a CPG company that did two important things:

  • Shows how they tried social media; and
  • Addresses how they tried to measure its effectiveness

One could argue the measures are a little soft. Still, they’re tougher standards than I’ve seen to date, which too often rest on ROP (Return on Prayer).


In January 2008, Kraft launched their new 1/3 Less Fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese with a campaign including TV spots, print ads and a sweepstakes that gave away bagels and cream cheese to 100 winners each day at through March 20. Visitors to the site were also able to download a new widget for recipes and party-planning tips.

The social media portion of the campaign was built around a PR stunt. Kraft gave JetBlue passengers a breakfast box containing a bagel, new 1/3 Less Fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese and an info packet explaining the product. Brand managers Adam Butler and Tyler Williamson became the face of the brand on a blog, YouTube videos and on the plane.

The agency, DEI Worldwide, engaged directly with consumers via online message boards, chat rooms, IM and profiles on MySpace and Facebook.

“Authenticity” And Acid Moments

Engaging with consumers in authentic, one-on-one conversations means you won’t always hear what you hope to hear. This game isn’t for the faint of heart. For example, I’m guessing top management at Kraft HQ was less than thrilled with this comment:

One blogger wrote, “As brand managers for this product, it’s all so overly intentional and schticky. You are sales people with an obvious point of view. This blog simply aims to distract from that fact by implying both of you can actually say anything other than ‘Kraft/Philadelphia cream cheese is great.’ A for effort, F for execution. The only thing cheesy around here is this blog!”

 Another real online conversation is below:

According to DEI Worldwide, the social media campaign consisted of  40 blog posts and 28 videos, written and filmed by the brand team, posted on the microsite during the campaign.


The campaign generated 535,088 direct online conversations in  chat rooms, instant message applications and message board forums with a potential pass-along 1st generation reach of 2,675,440.

At this point it’s only fair to note that I have no idea what “potential pass-along 1st generation reach” is. Anybody from Kraft care to comment? Anyone else have an idea?

In addition to the 1-1 conversations that took place, the campaign received more than 7,000 video views (really, not bad at all) and 50,000+ blog views.

Also — and probably where the bulk of the measurable ROI was — the campaign was featured  on national TV on Fox Business News, on National Public Radio (NPR) and in Brandweek Magazine.

What Did Kraft Learn?

In their own words:

    * Be authentic.
    * Accept some risk, you will not be able to control everything.
    * If you’re not talking about your product on-line, others are, and they’re controlling the conversation.
    * We need to be where people are getting their information and talking about food. People are online and doing this every day.
    * Don’t underestimate how technologically savvy consumers are, you can reach them through ways you didn’t think possible.
    * You need to find a way to respond to people’s comments; this is not a one-way conversation.
    * People want to feel like they’re being heard; forums like are a particularly easy way to achieve this feeling.
    * Videos…people love being on camera
    * If it’s been done before, don’t do it again, do it better

What Can Other CPG Brands Learn?

  • There’s a lot to learn (both good and bad) from launching with social media
  • Social media is an amplifier of traditional media, not a complete substitute
  • A human story is better than a pure product story, esp. when the full product promise can be delivered in the brand name
  • Social media may not require substantial paid media, but there is a significant cost in staff time and attention required in this approach
  • Be sure your management will be supportive, even when not all the “conversations” you start go the way you hope they will
  • Know your success metrics in advance

What have I missed as a lesson learned? I’d like to hear your thoughts.





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