Philly socks it to cream cheese fans

If you’re looking for the perfect pair of socks to go with your new Nike “Montreal Bagel” shoes, Philadelphia Cream Cheese has got you (or at least your feet) covered.

The Kraft Heinz Canada brand has announced Philly Schmear Socks that come in three “flavours”: Original, Chive & Onion, and Strawberry. Designed to look like socks that have been covered in schmears of the famous cream cheese, they represent what the 150-year-old brand is calling its “new modern tone,” with a goal of strengthening its bond with younger consumers. The socks are being sold online for $14.99, and will arrive in Philadelphia packaging.

According to a release, the socks showcase the brand’s “unique way of approaching trends, continuing to listen to the consumer’s growing needs and engaging with fans in a new and exciting way.”

They come just a week after Nike announced its Montreal bagel-inspired shoes featuring sesame seed graphics and a bagel-coloured sole. The $120 shoes quickly sold out, and led to a wave of media coverage.

The Schmear Socks, meanwhile, were developed in partnership with Rethink, which has established a reputation for adroitly inserting Kraft Heinz clients—and particularly Heinz Ketchup—into the cultural conversation in recent years through a series of attention-getting efforts such as the Heinz Hot Dog Pact and Draw Ketchup.

Like Heinz Ketchup, Philly is already an established category leader possessing enormous brand equity. It feels less about generating awareness than it is about associating a heritage brand with the speed of culture.

This is the second such stunt for Philly in as many weeks, following the Jan. 13 launch of a limited-edition product called “A Little Taste of Hell” made with ghost pepper extract. The product was a play on the brand’s longstanding “A Little Taste of Heaven” positioning.

It’s not the first time the brand has gone this route to engage consumers. In 2019 it introduced a device called “Bagel That,” capable of punching holes in any type of bread, and last year it posted a quick social response after a man smeared cake over the Mona Lisa, asking “Was it Philadelphia?”

“As a consumer-obsessed leader in the cream cheese industry, Philly is always looking for new ways to approach trends and actively engage diverse Canadians with unique, multi-sensorial experiences,” said senior brand manager Keenan White in a release. “Philly Schmear Socks showcase how the brand is able to move at the speed of culture and create experiences that excite new audiences to be a part of the brand’s growing community and build awareness across North America.”

Chris Powell