Kraft Heinz is looking for the next Philly angel

The cream cheese brand is updating a well-loved campaign to maintain market position in an increasingly competitive category.
Linda Kash_1

The friendly, soft-spoken and energetic Philadelphia cream cheese angel from the 90s is back, but is looking to pass on her wings in a campaign that will search for her successor.

On Feb. 26, Canadian actress Linda Kash – who is the best-known actress to play the angel – will help launch “#PHILLYCastingCall,” inviting all cream cheese-loving Canadians to submit a video audition on social media using the hashtag, telling Kash why they deserve to be the next spokesperson for the brand.

For Philadelphia parent company Kraft Heinz, a big part of this campaign is to ensure it maintains strong brand health, loyalty and overall market share position. Heena Verma, senior marketing manager, brand build and innovation at Kraft Heinz Canada, says Philly is the clear leader in terms of market share (at 80%) and brand equity within the Canadian cream cheese category. But there are competitors – namely within private label – that are starting to close the “functional product gap” on factors like price and quality.

“They certainly aren’t as loved and delicious as Philly, but they have made in-roads over the past year,” she says. “What we wanted to do, as the leaders in the cream cheese category, is to start to change and evolve the game…Move from just a functional product focus to really unleash the true potential of brand in consumers’ lives.”

The first “When it’s Philadelphia, it’s Heaven” ad was created by JWT for a Canadian campaign in 1994, with the concept later being spun out to other global markets. Canadians have a strong emotional connection to both Kash and the brand, with more than half of Canadians (55%) still recognizing the actress as the Philly angel in recent research. Kraft Heinz is looking to play on consumer nostalgia for the character, but in a new communications platform that is relevant today.

“One of the biggest goals for this campaign is to strengthen the loyalty and the love that consumers and Canadians feel for the Philly cream cheese brand, so they continue to buy us, instead of buying the competition,” Verma says. “It’s a proactive measure to make sure our consumers remain as loyal and as wanting to always buy Philly and maintain that strong market position moving forward.”

Last week, Miguel Patricio, CEO of Kraft Heinz, provided a glimpse into the marketing future of the company during its Q4 financial results’ earnings call. The company plans to increase its total marketing dollars and media spending by 30%, re-allocated “disproportionately” to its flagship brands that have better prospects of growing and flourishing – though it also plans to cut its number of agency relationships in half.

Rethink, The Colony Project and Starcom are working on the campaign, which launches on Feb. 26 with a social video promoting the contest. A TV ad later this year will formally reveal the winner to Canadians.