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Digital Marketing Trends: The Kraft-Heinz Rebrand Effort

September 13 2021 by Sarah Fleishman

If you’ve bought a pack of hot dogs or bologna in the last few months, you might have noticed something different. That’s right — Kraft Heinz recently added the iconic Weinermobile to new packaging for its Oscar Mayer meats and cold cuts.  

See if you can spot it below: 

It’s an addition that was, frankly, long overdue.  

The new packaging is part of a massive overhaul of some of Kraft Heinz’s oldest brands, starting with the bologna empire. An article in Ad Age indicates that the food company is “planning to spend $100 million more on marketing than it did in 2019” to promote its rebrand effort.

Naturally, as soon as we got a whiff of this news, we had to know: Has Kraft Heinz rolled out any fresh ads for Oscar Mayer? And how is it shifting its digital advertising strategy to support the rebrand? We dove into Pathmatics Explorer to find out. 

Kraft Heinz is spending more on digital ads in 2021 

First, we looked at ad spend and trends for Kraft Heinz as a whole. So far this year, the company has spent a total of $86.8 million on digital advertising. This makes it the #12 advertiser in CPG, and #9 for Food & Beverages in terms of spend. 

Right away, you’ll notice that the top five brands under Kraft Heinz all have something in common: cheese. 

Velveeta is the #1 brand Kraft Heinz is promoting in 2021, with $11 million (12.7%) in digital advertising spend this year and over 1 billion impressions. Kraft Cheese came in second with $8.1 million (9.4%) in spend, followed by general advertising for the Kraft Heinz company (7.5%), Philadelphia (6.7%), and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (6%). 

Oscar Mayer ad spend dips, then surges

Oscar Mayer is conspicuously absent from the list. The brand, which was #1 in spend during 2020, has dropped all the way down to #13 this year. So what's going on? 

Zooming in, we can see that this shift happened at the start of the year. After a period of relatively high ad spend from July through December 2020, spend for Oscar Mayer dropped to $0 in January 2021 as Kraft Heinz apparently pulled all ads for the brand. Oscar Mayer received only $300 in spend in February, $8500 in March, and $45K in April. Then in May, spend shot back up to $753K.

The increase in spend coincides with the rollout of the new “Keep It Oscar” campaign at the end of April. 

Rolling out fresh creatives

Pathmatics Explorer picked up the first ad for this campaign on April 28. Looking at creatives from 2019 through 2021, you can see just how much Oscar Mayer’s advertising has changed:

The brand that put a hot dog on wheels is bringing back the fun with bold colors, playful typography, and the whimsical sense of humor that made Oscar Mayer famous in the first place. 

Although it didn't revive its O-S-C-A-R jingle, the brand stayed true to its musical roots. Its top creative features a choir dressed in the brand's signature ketchup-and-mustard color scheme singing "Yum" on repeat as someone pushes a cart full of cold cuts. Another shows a turkey sandwich spinning on a record player as it gets slathered in mustard.  

Experimenting with new ad formats

As part of the “Keep It Oscar” campaign, Oscar Mayer rolled out a series of six- and sixteen-second video ads. This is the first time the meat company has leveraged desktop video. 

In 2019 and 2020, Oscar Mayer devoted 52% of its budget to Twitter ads, with smaller portions going toward Instagram (18%), desktop display (12%) and Facebook (11%). The brand spent barely 1% of its budget on desktop video ads. 

Compare that to 2021, and you can see how Oscar Mayer’s spend strategy has changed with the rebrand. Desktop video makes up the largest portion of the brand’s spend (27%), followed by Twitter (25%), Instagram (21%), Facebook (20%), and desktop display (7%). 

YouTube is now Oscar Mayer’s top site to advertise on. We’re thinking this shift has a lot to do with Kraft Heinz’s craving to bring the brand into the modern era — and of course the fact that YouTube is the most popular site to advertise on right now. 

What’s next for Kraft Heinz?

Oscar Mayer is the first brand to get a refresh, but others are coming soon.   Over the next 18 months, Kraft Heinz plans to overhaul 80% of its brands. We'll keep an eye out to see if it follows a similar advertising strategy for these other brands, including Kraft and Philadelphia. 

If you’re hungry for more advertising insights in the meantime, schedule a custom insights session.

About Author
Sarah Fleishman

With over a decade of experience across digital marketing, content, creative, and PR, Sarah is a creative and dynamic thinker who loves to delight clients with unique and relatable content. Sarah graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Sociology.

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