Philly has a hell of an offer for spice lovers

Who: Kraft Heinz Canada (Philadelphia Cream Cheese), with Rethink for strategy and creative; Middle Child for PR; Carat for media.

What: “A Little Taste of Hell,” a limited-edition product/marketing stunt featuring a cream cheese made with ghost pepper extract.

When & Where: The cream cheese is being sold through Uber Eats in Toronto for one day (Friday the 13th) at a hellish cost of $6.66. The launch is being supported by online video, social content on Instagram and Facebook, earned media outreach, an influencer sampling program, and a partnership with TikTok influencer Celina Spooky Boo (who has 26.5 million followers).

Why: Keenan White, Philly’s Chicago-based senior brand manager, described the Taste of Hell product as the latest example of Kraft Heinz’s larger objective to “drive engagement through innovation.” It’s an approach the company has taken with other brands in its portfolio, most notably Heinz Ketchup.

“Philly is always looking for unique ways to spark conversation around the brand with consumers, and this campaign is a reflection of those efforts,” said White. This program is specifically aimed at Millennial and Gen-Z consumers, who continue to demonstrate a fondness for hot and spicy food.

How: Well, it’s a new LTO made with extract from a ghost pepper, which has an average of about 1 million Scoville Heat Units. That makes it about 208 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper (although that’s good for only 7th place on’s ranking of the world’s hottest peppers).

“A Little Taste of Hell” arrives with protective hand coverings and a waiver informing recipients that the product they’re about to eat was “molded in the raging infernos of the underworld” and “spawned in the deepest bowels of hell at the behest of the devil himself.”

The accompanying video ad references Philly’s longstanding “A little taste of heaven” positioning, starting with an opening shot of the brand’s flagship product nestled in fluffy clouds before the camera rapidly moves downward to end up in perdition, accompanied by the message “Is now a little taste of hell.”

Somewhat surprisingly, the brand opted not to use the antithesis of the angel that has been its icon for decades. “While Canadians continue to hold a strong connection to the Philly Angel and the brand’s heavenly experience, we used consumer listening and understanding to take a different approach with A Little Taste of Hell to deliver against the desires of spice-craving consumers,” said White.

Yeah, but is it really hot? One of my marketing gripes is brands advertising products as hot-hot-hot when in reality they’re lukewarm at best (basically any QSR sandwich), so I wanted to know if “A Little Taste of Hell” is legitimately hot or if it’s just a marketing conceit. “Our team has tried it, and it’s legit,” said White.

And we quote: “We’re always looking to move at the speed of culture and go beyond borders when it comes to activating great ideas. In working collaboratively with our global teams and agency partners in Canada, we’re able to quickly uncover meaningful insights that lead to ownable campaigns that we can turn out quickly. Philly’s “A
Little Taste of Hell” is an example of this, with potential for broader expansion.” — Keenan White, senior brand manager, Philadelphia Cream Cheese

Chris Powell