Villing & Company

Kraft Wipes Out with Miracle Whip, the "Controversial" Condiment

Kraft is one of the largest food corporations in the world with some of the most recognizable brands such as Nabisco, Toblerone, Chips Ahoy!, Maxwell House and Oscar Mayer. They're especially huge on condiments, and one of their most popular is Miracle Whip, a common sandwich staple. Lately though, it seems that Kraft has become hell-bent on making the sandwich spread seem edgy and controversial. This is understandable too because, as we all know, mayo substitutes are so punk rock. Their quest to send this questionable message to the masses has had a bumpy road the last couple of years and they seem to have failed in repositioning the brand.

It all started in 2009 with a major Miracle Whip ad campaign a la Burger King grittiness. Many of you probably remember this. Here's a reminder:

It's a sobering reminder that not only do we need the right clothes and a kickin' ride, we need a hipster condiment too. What's to stop the producers from filling that playful kitty pool with Miracle Whip and sending this ad right over the edge of "cool"? If the enormously entertaining and scathing comments on YouTube are any reflection, the ad campaign did not fall on deaf ears of the youthful generation. Rather, it ignited the giddy mocking mouths of the smart and somewhat cynical target demographic. Are we to believe that the young people in the spot didn't make fun of it with their friends after the shoot? The premise is so absurd it was lampooned across the web and in the media, even inspiring response by Stephen Colbert.

Well, they're back. This time, they're "teaching the controversy" and highlighting the fact that Miracle Whip isn't for everyone with this "blunt" new campaign. Take a gander:

Now don't tell me you didn't gag a little when the girl at the end sniffs the open bottle with a disgusted look on her face - or when the guy with the big hair has the white goop smeared around his mouth. Yuck. It's as though Kraft is saying, "Hey, our product is incredibly gross to at least 50% of all people." It seems like that message is stronger than the message that a lot of people, in fact, love it. Crazy!

So, what could be the benefit of this type of advertising? Usually this is the type of thing that earns my respect because of the sheer honesty, but to me the concept smells a little fishy - with a tangy zip. In some ways you have to hand it to them for being so overtly honest about consumer opinions of the condiment. And you can see that maybe they're going for some sort of reverse psychology angle, which would be interesting. But after seeing these spots, I guess I feel a little grossed out and maybe even something about it seems disingenuous. When you check out the YouTube channel for the new campaign, most of the responses are suspiciously positive and some seem scripted.

There is definitely something creative going on here, but it's unclear what they're actually attempting to say. The result seems to be creative concepts pointed in the wrong direction. But maybe I'm wrong. So my big question is why try to generate a sense of controversy? Is it another attempt to make the product seem edgy and the people who like it seem like rebels? Does that generate customer awareness? Is that awareness positive?

I'm not sure what was wrong with the previous brand positioning like the dog making a sandwich for his owner or the housewife-aimed recipe ads. Why the need to make a sandwich spread youthful and edgy?

Personally, while I'm indifferent about Miracle Whip itself, I don't like these new ads very much. But I'm sure some folks love them, and they may well have good reasons for that. What do you think of the new Miracle Whip campaign? Love it or hate it?

Filed Under: advertising

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