Brands: Making ghosts powerful (again)

TakeAway: Kraft is on a mission to keep its myriad products from becoming ghost brands — once-prominent pantry staples that fade into obscurity through a lack of consumer interest brought on by a lack of advertising support. 

It is common during economic downturns for marketers to see if any brands they own can be renewed or revived because it can cost less to bring ghost brands back to life than develop new ones.

To forestall that fate for other brands, Kraft executives are initiating a project called Operation Spark, meant to help consumers reconnect with products that are not part of what Kraft calls its roster of “power brands,” which includes behemoths like Planters, Oreo, Ritz and Trident.

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Excerpted from the NYTimes, “Rescuing ‘Ghost’ Brands From Grocery Limbo By Stuart Elliott, April 12, 2011

This is also a propitious time for Kraft to assess its product lineup because consumers who are still watching their spending are eating at home more often, making them more receptive to pitches for packaged foods.

If ghost brands cannot be reclaimed, marketers usually have to give up the ghost, selling or discontinuing them to concentrate on larger, livelier holdings. For instance, Kraft stopped making its Postum grain beverage, which dated to 1895, and sold off products like Log Cabin syrups.

The brands the executives hope to keep from the ghostly ranks include the Athenos line of Greek-style dips, spreads and yogurt; dairy products that are sold in the East under the Breakstone’s name and in the West as Knudsen; and Stove Top stuffing. 

Those brands are getting new campaigns and other promotional support, including television commercials for Breakstone’s and Knudsen that began on Monday. The brands also all have new agencies. 

A central element of Operation Spark is to pair the smaller brands with creative agencies that have outstanding reputations for effective, rule-breaking advertising — and have not previously worked for Kraft.

Edit by AMW 

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