October 26, 2020
Kraft Kills “Noods” Campaign After Customer Comments
Ask any stand-up comedian, and they will tell you that the way to find the line is to cross it. But that truism doesn’t always translate well. Just ask Kraft Foods. The company was forced to apologize and pull an online advertising campaign recently after its core target market rebelled against the theme and content of the message.
It began with a simple play on words, a topical and “current” pun that someone on the marketing team clearly thought was edgy enough to cut through the glut of messages on social media. Here’s that message, as it was posted on social media:
“There’s no better way to show you care than sending noods. Who will you send noods to? Use #SendNoods and #Sweepstakes for the chance to send noods to someone you love!”
The punchline is that the company was advertising its Kraft Mac & Cheese product – made with noodles and “real cheese” – in what they clearly thought was a fun and compelling way. Again, the trouble is that the target market for this product is families with kids. Read that again: Families and kids. And we’re talking about (wink-wink) sending “noods.” Memo to Kraft: That’s not going to catch on with your target market. And it did not. Here’s a sampling of the responses on social media:
“Wow, I always saw Kraft Mac N Cheese as more kid-friendly. It’s a funny play on words, but think about the kids who see this and start saying they want to send noods to someone… Anyone who hears that will be … deeply concerned…”
“Keep your ‘noods’ to yourself…”
And so it went, post after post. People clearly “got” the joke, but they, also very clearly, though it crossed the line into an inappropriate territory for kids. And, who can blame them? What parents want their kids giggling about is “sending noods.” That’s not a good “look” for a family brand. Know your audience, Kraft. Clearly, they thought they did. In announcing the now-pulled campaign, Kraft Mac & Cheese brand manager Martina Davis said, “We’re all seeking the comforts of home and traditions that bring us together… Send and share the cheesiest noods with (your) friends and family…”
The campaign was set to coincide with National Noodle Day, and Davis’ initial message mentioned Kraft Mac & Cheese by name… but that wasn’t enough context for people reacting to the “send noods” hashtag on social media.
The company has announced it will “remove all traces” of the “noods” campaign, which encouraged customers to “send love and comfort from a safe distance…” in the form of “noods.” Honestly, the combination of the “love and comfort” message and the “send noods” call to action should have tipped someone off somewhere in the decision-making process. But, for whatever reason, no one in a position to do something about this stopped this PR disaster before it got off the launch pad.
This signals that they may be something more in need of adjusting to the Kraft marketing team. Edgy can work, but you need to know and appreciate your audience. Kraft is not a brand that can really get away with working “edgy and blue” in its marketing.