Kraft Plays Up ‘Fun’ in Jell-O Campaign

Kraft Foods has kicked off a campaign advertising the fun side of boxed Jell-O, as sales of shelf-stable gelatin have dropped and consumers continue to eat more meals at home.

It’s been several years since Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft has put significant media weight behind its boxed gelatin business. The maker of DiGiorno and Capri Sun ran ads several years ago focusing on Jell-O’s use in holiday recipes, but the approach used in ads running this week (via Draftfcb, Chicago) is new, said Jell-O senior brand manager Stephanie Hurlbert.

One spot shows yellow- and red-colored Jell-O jiggling to groovy music. The Jell-O pieces shake, stretch, jump and giggle. The camera then rolls back to reveal a father slurping the Jell-O with his mouth, and his son, laughing, eating it with his hands. “Why just make a snack? Make fun. Jell-O,” the spot concludes.

Kraft traditionally emphasized its refrigerated and prepackaged gelatin, but with consumers eating and preparing desserts at home more, the opportunity was ripe, Hurlbert said. “Consumers are having a hard time making ends meet. We know they are looking for affordable food solutions. And what’s more affordable than a box of Jell-O with which you can serve your whole family?” she said.

The campaign is also part of Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld’s strategy to weather tough times by focusing on iconic, value-oriented brands. As a result, Kraft has put more effort behind brands like Kool-Aid, Jell-O and Mac & Cheese.

Hurlbert said the campaign is not an attempt to grow the boxed vs. the refrigerated business, but to ensure both benefit from the eat-at-home trend. Consumers, too, are shifting their focus to center of the store shopping, and boxed Jell-O lives and plays in that space, she said.

Boxed gelatin, a $155 million category, dropped 0.24 percent in dollar sales across major food, drug and mass channels for the 52 weeks ended June 14, according to IRI. Jell-O’s sales, in particular, were down 0.84 percent. But dollar sales of Jell-O refrigerated snacks, including pudding and gelatin cups, were up 2.83 percent.

Kraft said, however, the growing emphasis on value would boost its boxed Jell-O business. “There was a period of time when convenience was king and consumers were willing to pay whatever it took to have those extra minutes,” but now value has trumped that, Hurlbert said. (Boxed Jell-O sells for 79 cents, on average, at most major food retailers.)

Kraft is also getting the word out via print ads in the fall issue of its Food & Family magazine, as well as an FSI dropping on July 26 and online ads beginning July 27. Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, two entrepreneurs whose claim to fame is creating “fine English jellies,” are aiding in a PR push for the brand. Starcom’s Mediavest handles media buying duties.

Phil Lempert, an industry expert and Progressive Grocer contributor who calls himself the “supermarket guru,” said the campaign taps into the need for some levity at moment. “One of the things Jell-O allows people to do is to have fun, not only in the eating process, but in the making of it as well,” he said. “It’s a really easy and fun way of engaging the whole family in food preparation, so if the focus is on fun as well as value, they’ll likely be very successful,” he said of the effort.

- Nielsen Business Media
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