To be clear, I am a Kraft Mac and Cheese consumer. Even more so during COVID-19. I have two boys, eight and 10 years old, and I probably serve it at least once a week. It's easy. I don't need to overthink it. And I feel fine serving it, nutritionally, to my boys.
But honestly, after their latest debacle of a marketing campaign, which now seems on-par with how Kraft Heinz thinks its brands should engage with parents, I might spend a little more and hop over to Annie's. Is it as bad as their "salad frosting" campaign in which they asked parents to lie to their children? You tell me.
If you missed it Kraft Blue Box recently launched a "Send Noods" campaign. Get it? Noods, not nudes. Even writing it makes me cringe.
Somehow, this asinine idea made its way through all the integrated meetings, briefings and reviews to actually launch into the world. And as someone who does this for a living, I know it takes a LOT of time, energy and eyeballs before these things launch.
To the surprise of nobody, other than the brand and agency teams, it fell flat on its face.
Look, I'm not one to clutch my pearls and gasp in horror. I am not offended except over what a bad idea this was and how poorly the brand overlooked glaring indicators that moms and parents don't need this right now.
We are struggling. We are exhausted. We are trying to get through each day as best we can and taking a trusted brand we keep in our pantry and turning it into such a terrible joke feels rude. I am taking this personally. Did Kraft think that people would find this funny and this was a joke they needed right now?
In addition to ripping off an existing idea — "Send Noods" T-shirts have been around for a long time FYI — somehow the brand thought this would be something that would resonate with its consumers because...why exactly?
Good question. Perhaps they're going after the stoned college kids who are desperately trying to avoid quarantining by making mac and cheese in their dorms and avoiding dining halls?
But their core consumers are parents (or to be honest, moms.) So what was the thought process about how this campaign would go over with them?
I worked on Kraft Heinz brands during some of the most formative years of my career and one of my greatest mentors, the late Tom Bick, former ad director at Oscar Mayer, always said: "It costs just as much to make sh*tty creative as it does to do great work. So do great work, damn it!"
When I worked on these brands, we never took ourselves too seriously but you can bet your ass we always took our consumers seriously. We listened to them. We understood what they needed and how we could help.
Eveyone likes a good joke. But "Send Noods" is anything but a good joke. Your consumers, myself included, deserve better, Kraft Mac and Cheese. Like Bick said: Do good work, dammit!
Catherine Merritt is CEO of Spool.