Kraft Canada is already in the teddy bear business. Now it's branching out into books.
Since last spring, the company has been taking a new approach to marketing its peanut butter brand, based on tapping into consumers' emotions. It began with an ad campaign telling the story of a girl and her teddy bear – and how the girl grows up to be a young mother with a bear to give to her own baby. Then, in October, Kraft announced it was bringing the bears to life, offering real plush versions for sale. It's all part of a bigger push to use emotion to build a deeper connection between the brand and the families that buy peanut butter.
Now, the company is telling another emotional story that it is hoping could be another avenue to speak to those families.
In its newest campaign, which is designed for promotion on social media, Kraft surprised a Toronto mother named Deborah Goldberg with a storybook written just for her.
The company told Ms. Goldberg that she and her husband and two daughters were part of a documentary on the subject of busy families.
Without her knowledge, the rest of the family met with Paulette Bourgeois, the author of the Franklin series of children's books. Ms. Bourgeois then created a book about the family. Then, at an event where Ms. Goldberg was told she would be part of a panel, she was asked to read the book onstage in front of an audience made up of her family members.
The idea for Kraft is to appeal to mothers whose lives feel rushed, and who don't always have the chance to hear from their families just how important they are.
The video will be promoted on YouTube, through Yahoo Inc.'s video advertising platform BrightRoll, AOL's Be On, and on Facebook Inc. – which has been vying for more video ad dollars.
"If you can move somebody so much that they're compelled to share it with their friends and family, that's your credibility," said Amy Rawlinson, director of marketing for Kraft Peanut Butter. "As a mom, I would share a piece like this. I'm living this situation."
The brand's target is one-million video views. If it is successful online, then the company will consider putting more advertising dollars behind it around Mother's Day this year. Part of that could involve a bigger book publishing angle: a campaign that would allow women's husbands to create their own storybooks letting moms know how important they are to their families.
Emotional campaigns have been hugely successful for some brands including Dove and WestJet. The airline's 2013 "Christmas Miracle" video led to a 77 per cent increase in bookings and an 86 per cent hike in revenue during the campaign period compared to the same time the year before.
But as more and more brands go for emotional ads, there is a risk that all this heartstring-tugging could receive a skeptical reception from consumers.
In the digital environment, where people are more interested in hearing from friends than from advertisers, all brands need to cultivate a more human image, said Leisha Roche, senior director of marketing for grocery brands at Kraft Canada.
"You're not competing with other brands anymore. You're competing with people," she said. "…So we almost have to behave that way. If you don't, you run the risk of becoming dated."