How Kraft Heinz Blended Video Ads, Influencer Marketing To Boost Sales For Kraft Mac & Cheese

A Kraft Heinz survey found that 75 percent of Millennial moms said they sometimes swear in front of their kids. "We thought, 'This is such a great, interesting moment, and we can use it to do something that will resonate with her,'" says Michelle St Jacques, Kraft Heinz's head of brand & innovation, in a conversation at Cannes Lions.

It’s difficult to predict the combination of forces that will make a video ad go viral, but Kraft Heinz turned out to have the perfect recipe with its Swear Like A Mother campaign in 2017: Its video campaign for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, made with agency CP+B, generated over 4.5 million views, 70 million social impressions, and inspired over 769,000 likes, comments and retweets in just nine days.

Why did it work? Michelle St Jacques, head of brand & innovation at Kraft Heinz, credits both data and a deep understanding of consumers’ values for the campaign’s success.

“When I think about making sure we get to the right consumer, part of it is around data,” St Jacques says. “But the other part of it is driven by really making sure you understand exactly what your consumer cares about. What I loved about that [campaign] was the reaction to it: Across social, moms were tagging each other in the content and saying, ‘That’s so you, that’s so me. That’s so us.'”

As St Jacques returned to Cannes Lions last week to seek insights and inspiration for future innovation, GeoMarketing caught up with her about two of Kraft Heinz’s most successful recent campaigns — and what the future holds for one of America’s most classic brands.

Cannes Lions serves as a time of inspiration and ideation for the industry. What elements of this week are you excited to take home and implement in your own marketing efforts?

Michelle St Jacques: The biggest thing for me is probably around how bravery in creative is still is the biggest thing that drives talkability and sales — it’s what people care about. I love to be inspired by other people here, and to see great examples of people who are doing things differently to connect with their consumers.

One example that’s one of my favorites is the MGM “Universal Love” work that won [on June 20th.]  It was a playlist of songs for MGM Resorts, and it was around creating wedding songs for same sex couples.

They did things like taking a song like “My Girl” and making it also available as “My Guy.” I just thought it was both [important] and a really clever marketing idea. Weddings are a big part of their positioning that industry.

I saw it as a very smart way to be more inclusive, so that was very interesting. I look at ideas like that that drive talkability, drive that buzz.

Speaking of driving buzz, let’s talk about the recent Kraft Heinz activation around Country Time Lemonade. 

Definitely. I think it’s all about figuring out cultural truths that you can tap into that people care about.

In the Country Time example, here’s how it started: Country Time is kind of synonymous with lemonade stands. Then, some of our insights showed us that there were kids in the U.S. who were being fined for having lemonade stands.

As a brand, we feel passionately that having a lemonade stand is actually a part of growing up, a right of passage; you learn entrepreneurial skills. It’s actually a really positive thing. So we felt like this was something that we could take a stand on.

We launched a a campaign called Country Time ‘Legal-Aid,’ which was all around paying for kid’s fines if they get fined for lemonade, and celebrating lemonade stands, and all of that. To me, what’s amazing about that is, it’s a simple concept that’s very true to the brand, and how it’s being used, and its history. The amount of positivity that came from that act from an online perspective was amazing.

Not only did they support what we were trying to do, but it made them support the brand even more because of the closeness it was creating. I know it’s just a lemonade stand, but it’s still about that idea of celebrating something that you think is important — empowering it, but also doing it in a way that builds the heart of our brand for people. They say, “That’s a brand I want to buy, it’s a brand I want to support.”

You did something similar with your insights around millennial motherhood, too, for your Mother’s Day campaign for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese last year. Can you expand on how that worked? 

Of course. Based on our insights around how motherhood — and mothers’ perceptions of it — were evolving, we decided that we wanted to celebrate moms even being “imperfect.”

We created the campaign called Swear Like A Mother with Kraft Mac and Cheese. We found this insight amongst our young millennial moms that 75 percent of moms said they sometimes swear in front of their kids. We thought, “this is such a great, interesting moment, and we can use it to do something that will resonate with her.”

We created a fun video campaign around that. We were very fun and carefree about the approach, but we basically said, “we love you as you are.”

What I loved about that was the consumer reaction to it. The video [was targeted and shared] across social, and moms were tagging each other in the content and saying, “That’s so you, that’s so me. That’s so us.”

When I think about making sure we get to the right consumer, part of it is around data. And the other part of it is driven by really making sure you understand what your consumer cares about.

How do you go from thinking about a national branding campaign like that, and take it down to the local level? Essentially, how do you balance national-to-local marketing, with the goal that, ultimately, someone will go to their local store and purchase a Kraft Heinz product?

Obviously, we’re approaching marketing with the goal of making sure that we’re getting to the right consumer at the right moment.

We’re very data driven in our approach. That can be a regional, it can be local, it can be a demographic. It can even be an attitude that we’re targeting.

When we’re doing something that’s kind of like taking a stand, like with the lemonade, or something of that nature, I think it’s most about making sure that the thing that we’re bringing to the world will resonate with our consumer target.

In terms of targeting, though, we did a few different things [with the Mother’s Day video campaign] to make sure that we were able to drive it. One was obviously through paid, working with our different platforms and social. I think it was on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, if I remember correctly, and that’s a key part of driving it.

The other big piece in terms of driving that message was around Influencers.  The priority was finding Influencers who had a similar kind of value system or voice to what we were trying to do. We worked with them to also share those moments about being imperfect. We sent them the Kraft boxes, and there were also these cute Mother’s Day cards in them.

Influencer Marketing really has been hot topic this year — both in general and at Cannes, with Unilever making the fervent appeal for greater integrity and transparency around the tactic. How do you do it right? How do you select the right national influencer, or the local micro-influencer?

I think for us I go back to being really clear about what we’re looking for from our Influencers. Sometimes you’re looking for smaller groups that can obviously drive bigger individual impacts. Sometimes, you’re looking for somebody who has a bigger following to create that bigger ripple.

I think the number one thing that we need to make sure of is, again, that the partner that we’re working with has an authentic voice that fits with what our brand is trying to say and our consumer target. We try to spend a lot of time making sure that those two things align. Then, certainly, it’s important to pursue the appropriate verification process to make sure we’re confident in the people that we’re partnering with, and that we can get the appropriate data. That’s what makes an Influencer effort work.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.