Kraft taste tests its hazelnut spread in Italy, the birthplace of hazelnut spreads

Who: Kraft Heinz and Rethink, with Starcom for media.

What: “Can’t handle it,” a brand spot for Kraft’s new-ish Hazelnut spread.

When & Where: The new ad is on TV and digital now.

Why: Kraft launched its hazelnut spread in July. There were some communications then, but it was mostly social and focused on the fact that the product is made without palm oil.

But to really break through in a category dominated by one very famous hazelnut spread, Nutella, Kraft needed something bigger. They wanted to create interest and excitement about having a new hazelnut spread option. “When you think about hazelnut spread, you’re looking at a one-brand category,” said Rethink’s executive creative director, Mike Dubrick. Being made without palm oil is an important point of distinction, he said, “but if it doesn’t taste good, then it doesn’t matter.”

As a newcomer to the category, Kraft and Rethink wanted to talk about the product’s taste, and communicate that it is as good as the iconic competitor it is taking on (without mentioning it by name). “There’s a need to prove our credentials,” said Dubrick.

How: The creative idea was to imagine Kraft’s new hazelnut spread being introduced to consumers in Italy, the home of Nutella.

At first, the Italians are sceptical about the Canadian upstart—even mocking Kraft’s familiar peanut butter bear mascots on the packaging—until they try it and their doubt is replaced by embarrassed (and comical) amazement. “We think that is the point of difference,” said Dubrick. “Once you try it, you realize it tastes great. So we see these people in Italy overly enjoying it.”

Kraft as a challenger: As a marketer with well-known brands that often lead the categories they’re in, Kraft finds itself in an unusual position as it launches a new product. “We actually embraced that idea of being a challenger brand,” said Dubrick. “They said ‘Let’s go out and be a challenger, let’s try to be disruptive and have some fun with it.'”

The shoot: Yes, that is actually Italy (“You can’t fake Italy,” said Dubrick), although the shoot was done remotely.

Director Leigh Marling was on set with an Italian crew, while the agency and client teams were all watching via video feeds— through both nights of the two-day shoot, thanks to the six hour time difference—back in Canada. “We had a direct link to camera. You can think of it is as a remote video village, but instead of the cable going 100 yards, it went a few thousand miles,” said Dubrick.

They agency team had direct contact with the director and maintained regular conversations, he said. “It’s never going to be the same as being shoulder to shoulder with the director and being there, but given the circumstances, it couldn’t have run any smoother,” he said.

“The one nice thing is it forces everyone to let go a little bit, and I think that is a good thing. We had oversight and control; it was very much like a regular shoot. But giving that flexibility to the director and to the team to run just a little more than you normally would, I think really empowered them to put together a really great piece.”

David Brown