Philly hopes its new angel will take off on social

A new spokesperson and a bigger online presence are helping the cream cheese brand hold on to leadership in breakfast.
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You can call it the passing of the wings.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese has named its new angel after a talent search earlier this year, as the brand looks to win the “bagel occasion” and resonate with millennial families by building out its presence across social platforms.

Humberly González is succeeding Linda Kash as the brand’s spokesperson. González is an actress with credits that include Orphan Black and Utopia Falls, and she will appear alongside Kash, who began appearing in a series of much-loved ads in 1994, in upcoming TV and social spots. 

The Kraft Heinz cream cheese brand is teasing the announcement across social, and shared clips from submissions to build interest in the reveal. A TV spot debuting González features Kash walking onto a soundstage and taking a bit of a bagel she finds there, giving her flashbacks of images from past ad campaigns, before realizing González is there too and introducing herself.

According to Nina Patel, head of marketing and innovation at Kraft Heinz Canada, the casting call search was highly successful, with strong impressions across paid and earned channels, resulting in over 300 Canadians submitting auditions. The end of the contest did run up against the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Canada – and the brand did use the fact that it had revived the “angel” imagery to thank “local angels” who were helping their communities – but the campaign revealing González as the winner is running in the fall as planned.

Patel tells strategy that like many other CPG brands during the first half of the year, Philly did see an increase in consumption, alongside a spike in traffic on Kraft’s What’s Cooking recipe site. While cream cheese can be a popular recipe ingredient – especially in baking, which has become increasingly popular with Canadians during the pandemic – there has been a similar spike in at-home breakfast occasions, and Patel sees that as an opportunity for Philly to lean into its strength.

“Philly’s primary occasion is heavily routed in breakfast, and on a bagel,” Patel says. “It’s spot on the breakfast table is irrefutable.”

However, the breakfast occasion is being increasingly contested by an evolving competitive and consumer landscape, both within and outside of cream cheese. Because of that, Patel says it is looking for ways to increase brand relevancy and connection with consumers to win the “bagel occasion” as one of Canada’s favourite spreads. Some of that will come in product innovation – in October, the brand is doing something spicy – but the main play will be driving the relevancy of the brand, which a revived “angel” campaign will be a major part of.

“Canadians have a strong emotional connection to Linda as our original Philly Angel, and when wearing wings, the angel is a clear distinctive asset associated with our brand,” Patel says. But she adds that a new decade requires a new angel and a chance to be more reflective of what Canada looks like today. Putting the duo together during González’s introduction will help the brand drive the brand connection, as well as some nostalgia.

“A Little Taste of Heaven” is a fully integrated 360-degree campaign that includes TV, online video and digital ads. However, Patel says, Kraft Heinz is increasing Philly’s presence and investment against social across all platforms. The goal is to drive stronger consumer engagement and connection, particularly with millennial families, with the help of content featuring a face and concept that instantly connects back to the brand.

The campaign was managed by the brand’s AORs: Rethink led creative and production, Starcom led media and The Colony Project is managing public relations and influencer elements.