Earlier this month, the folks at Kraft Foods, began airing a very unusual TV commercial in which Miracle Whip lovers and haters shared their view on this sandwich spread. The campaign is notable for both its candor and its daring.
It's not uncommon for product marketers to use positive testimonials to promote their products. It's unheard of to provide the other point of view; yet this series of commercials Kraft brings together Miracle Whip lovers and haters to share their views on the brand. Here are some of the brutal comments made by Miracle Whip detractors:
- The stuff is just awful.
- On a scale of one to ten, I hate Miracle Whip at like twenty-two.
- It tastes like lotion.
- I'd never eat it. It's just wrong.
The commercials feature testimonials from common folks and the more famous such as James Carville. All get to air their loves and hates.
The campaign is clearly very risky, so it's interesting to think about the strategy behind Kraft's "Take A Side" campaign. Some commentators have stated that they believe that Kraft is looking to generate buzz and/or that they are trying to challenge mayonnaise users to switch to Miracle Whip. I think neither is the primary strategy behind "Take A Side."
While it is true the campaign has generated consumer interest (see below Google Trends data), buzz is most beneficial to brands that seek to generate awareness. I doubt that there are many consumers in the U.S. who are unaware of Miracle Whip. The bump in consumer interest is good for the brand, but it's likely to be short lived, and not of great enough benefit to justify the risks. Nor do I believe that Kraft is trying to encourage switching as in the "Pepsi Challenge." The commercials never explicitly or implicitly encourage a mayonnaise user to try Miracle Whip.
The "Take A Side" campaign celebrates the division of the world into two tribes - the Miracle Whip lovers and haters. It encourages the lovers to see themselves as different and special. In doing so, it attempts to create group identity around a shared set of taste preferences. The Miracle Whip haters play a critical role in this because they act as a foil to sharply define the the existence of Miracle Whip lovers. It's the lovers that Kraft cares about. The company wants them to feel proud of their brand. To stick up for the brand versus the haters and to slather Miracle Whip on sandwiches with pride.
Secondarily, I believe that Kraft is promoting the idea that it's OK to purchase both mayonnaise and Miracle Whip because when it comes to sandwich spreads the twain shall never meet. The current practice among consumers is for mom to purchase one product for everyone in the family -- you either buy Miracle Whip or you buy mayonnaise. In new households formed by spouses with different historical taste preferences, the least common denominator is mayonnaise; a Miracle Whip user may not love the taste of mayonnaise but they can tolerate it. However, the reverse is not true; mayonnaise users abhor the taste of Miracle Whip and will never eat it. This phenomenon means that new households formed by spouses with different taste preferences results in mayonnaise buying household. Kraft may be attempting to stem sales erosion created by these "mixed marriages" by sharply outlining a tribe of Miracle Whip users and encouraging them to buy Miracle Whip in addition to mayonnaise to satisfy both taste preferences within the family. Check out the version of the commercial called "Relationship Battles" at Miracle Whip's Facebook page.