At the start of this year, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese had about 570,000 Facebook “likes.” Now, not even five months later, that number is inching toward 1 million.
How’d the brand pull it off? It wasn’t any one big push. Instead, Kraft has given its fans multiple opportunities engage with that brand with a creative, fun social media program every month or so.
“We just feel that these social programs really help our brand stay very relevant in consumers’ minds,” says Rupal Patel, senior associate brand manager with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
Each program came together pretty quickly—at least one in as little as two weeks. Kraft develops each “on-the-site production,” as Patel calls them, in conjunction with its agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Kraft and CP+B do as much as possible to create some content—Facebook posts and tweets—in advance, but when it comes to videos and responses, things just happen as they happen.
The first program of the year was Macsurance, which was based on a TV spot the brand aired late in 2011.
“The idea behind Macsurance is it’s an insurance policy for Mac and Cheese, so our fans are protected in the case of theft of Mac and Cheese by someone you love,” Patel says.
After seeing the TV commercial, people actually asked for their own opportunities to get Macsurance certificates, Patel says. So Kraft created a Facebook app which included the commercial in which an official-looking announcer helps a kid get coverage after his dad steals part of his dinner. People applied for their own policies to get a certificate and a coupon for a free box.
“It actually increased our fan base by 170,000 fans,” Patel says. On top of that, overall engagement on Facebook went up 25 percent, she says.
People got the joke, Patel says. Nobody who applied for the certificate called up expecting to be covered if their groceries got stolen or anything like that.
“Consumers understand the lighthearted nature of our brand,” she says.
Golden Voice of Love
For Valentine’s Day, Kraft built a Twitter campaign centered on Ted Williams, the formerly homeless man who now does voice-overs for the brand’s commercials. Williams recorded 380 YouTube videos in which he read the contents of tweets tagged with the hashtag #VoiceofLove, sort of like radio song dedications.
“This was all happening in real time over three days,” Patel says. “He was just cranking them out.”
Kraft ended up with about 1,200 total tweets, but Patel says people understood that Williams couldn’t do a video for every tweet. Kraft and CP+B actually did create a response for anyone who complained that his or her tweet wouldn’t be read in the golden voice, but they never needed to use it.
“We were very upfront with customers that, if you tweet this hashtag, if you’re tweet is chosen, we’ll create a video for you,” she says.
The brand also promised 100 boxes of Mac and Cheese to the charity Feeding America for each tweet with the hashtag, up to 100,000 boxes.
The videos and tweets in the program got about 62 million impressions, Patel says.
Old Birds, New Tweets
In early April, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese celebrated its 75th anniversary by handing over its Twitter and Facebook accounts to two women who have been around longer than the brand, octogenarians Frankie and Dottie.
“These ladies didn’t own a computer and didn’t even really know how to use one before meeting us,” Patel says. “We didn’t know how people were going to respond to it.”
The idea was for the whole thing to be an entertaining novelty, but as Frankie and Dottie progressed through their three days in charge of the accounts, people really started to root for them and encourage them.
“They are adorable. I love it,” a commenter on one of the 27 videos Kraft made of the duo.
In all those videos netted a total of 100,000 views, and the posts Frankie and Dottie made reached 11 million people.
“They commented, they responded, they planked,” Patel says of the pair. “It was very clear that America loved them.”
Later that month, Kraft posted this mysterious Facebook update:
“‘LIKE’ this post, and you never know what may happen.”
In hopes of solving the mystery, 4,600 people did as asked. Three days later, they got a nearly seven-minute video in which each of their names scrolled across the screen, and many of them were incorporated into song.
“We wanted it to be a kind of surprise and delight in terms of what they were getting,” Patel says.
The initial post was the most-liked in the brand’s Facebook history, she says, but no one was sure how people would react. In the end, the video got about 17,000 views.
Patel says she isn’t sure whether Kraft will go back to the mystery well again. With the Likeapella song, the brand set the bar pretty high.
“We wanted to make sure there was a payoff in the end,” she says.
Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.