Food Marketing Summer 2022: It’s the worst and the best

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It looks like this summer has reinvigorated food marketing, especially for iconic brands that have been challenged during the pandemic and rising prices. While some brand managers and ad creatives have created smart campaigns, others have, well, not fared so well.

Here are some notable new campaigns. The first two of the worst!

The marketing team at century-old brand Velveeta wants to shake things up a bit and create buzz and relationships with younger generations. How? Well, last year they launched a Velveeta-scented nail polish, and with BLT Restaurants this summer launched a Velveeta-infused martinin that lives up to its Veltini name.

Kraft-Heinz marketers are trying to make Velveeta an ambitious lifestyle brand. I accept Velveeta for what it is – a pasteurized prepared cheese product. It can’t even be labeled cheese. I grew up with my dad in the cheese business and my dad wouldn’t allow it in our house. Although my mom liked the way it melted on the macaroni.

The truth is, the original recipe was made using Swiss cheese and whey – yes, real cheese. It was created in the early 1900s and Kraft bought it in 1927. From then on the recipe evolved into what it is today – milk, whey, whey protein concentrate, milk fat , sodium phosphate, milk protein concentrate and contains less than 2% of various preservatives and colorings. Kraft’s brilliant marketers were able to buy the American Medical Association’s endorsement in 1931 – they said the nutritional value of Velveeta was “firm flesh” – what does that mean anyway? Body fat? And no, Velveeta does not require refrigeration and, according to the company, has a shelf life of 210 days.

Maybe nail polish isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Another food marketing idea with questionable success is the Dive Bar (not to be confused with the Dove Bar).

In August 2021, 39% of Americans say beer is a “must have” drink. Miller High Life, you know “The Champagne of Bottled Beer” wants to take the opportunity and do brand extension in the case of frozen foods – and be the ice cream of choice for those beer drinkers. Yes, the Dive Bar contains 5% alcohol. To give the brand some credence, it’s actually infused with Miller High Life beer, along with peanut and caramel swirls; topped with a sprinkling of “carbonated” candy (remember Pop Rocks?) and it’s dipped in dark chocolate.

Do you still have your taste buds? Long before you get too excited…. it’s called Dive Bar because they want to recreate the total Dive Bar experience! The brand says the Peanut Swirl is in honor of the quintessential dive bar snack – peanuts. There’s a hint of tobacco smoke flavor and the caramel swirl is meant to mimic the sticky dive bar floor. The carbonated candy is there to mimic the fizziness of beer, and the dark chocolate topping is meant to evoke the dark wood, dimly lit ambiance of a dive bar.

The novelty of the ice cream for sure, but I don’t think the Dove Bar has anything to worry about.

The good news is that there is actually a brand that put together a brilliant and timely campaign.

Kudos to Tito’s Vodka for a brilliant PR and marketing stunt – Tito’s in a can. A 16 oz. a reusable steel can that sells online for $20 with 2 major accolades in category and marketing. When you purchase a boxed Ttio, all proceeds are donated to your choice of a nonprofit partner. Second, the box is empty. That’s right – empty.

The brand pokes fun at hard seltzer and the canned cocktail craze we’ve already covered here. Are many of us making our own canned cocktails in Tito’s can, not really. But what this promotion highlights is the fact that these seltzers and cocktails typically don’t use the spirits their names allude to.

Remember Bartel’s & James wine coolers that replaced wine once they were a hit with malt? They never called it a beer cooler and lowered the alcohol level to 4%. And while they are still on the market – of course now in cans. You would have a hard time finding it.

Tito’s campaign takes a stand – know what you’re buying. It’s a cry to look closely at this category of canned seltzer and coolers, and see exactly what its future holds.

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