It’s about tine—KD apologizes to its spoon eaters

KD has issued a funny mea(l) culpa over its tacit suggestion that its product can only be enjoyed with a fork, ignoring the approximately 43% of its customers who claim to eat the product with a spoon.

On Monday, the Kraft-Heinz Canada brand issued a winking “apology” in the form of a full-page ad in The Globe and Mail, in which it admitted “We forked up” by failing to acknowledge its 13 million or so Canadian “Spoon Eaters.” It also used the ad to announce the launch of limited-edition Kraft Dinner for “spoon eaters”—though the only actual change is the photo on the box showing a spoon instead of a fork.

“As Canada’s official unofficial national dish, we are committed to providing new and existing consumers with unique and innovative ways to enjoy KD,” said brand manager Jerome Skeene in a tongue-in-cheek release. “After recognizing our ‘fork up’ and uncovering the divide between spoon and fork eaters, we were able to tap into this consumer truth that nearly half of our consumers prefer to scoop versus spear, and provide Canadians with an opportunity to eat KD their way.”

Spoons are by far the oldest eating utensil, with a history dating back to 1000 B.C., predating the fork—which wasn’t regularly used as an eating utensil until the 1600s. And for years, forks were mostly for the well-to-do. “You had to be well-off to have even one fork and downright rich to have enough to serve your guests,” said CBS News in a 2006 story entitled “The Evolution of  Silverwear.”

But while forks might once have been limited only to those of us who have $1 million, KD admitted that it erred by only showing the product being eaten with a fork on its commercials and boxes.

Newspapers are seldom a key plank in media plans these days, although they remain a popular vehicle for brands to apologize for their (generally more serious) actions, likely because they still possess an air of gravitas.

Companies as varied as Facebook, Volkswagen, Target and Samsung have all using the tactic in previous years. KFC in the U.K. also used full page newspaper ads to apologize for a 2018 chicken shortage, although, like KD, the ad was more lighthearted in tone.

“We wanted to create a satirical take on the formal apologies that are typically issued by other large corporations and so we looked to the print medium to help us achieve this,” said Skeene via email. “We specifically identified The Globe & Mail to provide a level of permanence and credibility, while also remaining true to KD’s light-hearted and quirky nature, ultimately helping us speak to our extremely diverse audience.”

The print ad is part of a broader campaign developed by Kraft Heinz Canada’s creative AOR Rethink that also includes online video, out-of-home in downtown Toronto, and influencer relations.

The video campaign features interviews with consumers in which they state their preferred method. “I don’t really respect people who eat KD with a fork that much,” says one. “The spoon, it’s not the right tool for the job,” says another. They also get to try out the new “Spoon KD.” “It is creamier for sure,” says one.

Boxes of Spoon KD are being sold nationally through grocery banners including Walmart, Metro (Quebec and Ontario), and Loblaw’s Maxi and No Frills banners.

But with no actual change in product formulation, the campaign feels reminiscent of the famous “Diamond Shreddies” campaign from Ogilvy & Mather, a “cereal revolution” in which the staid old square cereal product was “transformed” into a diamond simply by pivoting it 45 degrees to the left or right.

The brand launched a new box design highlighting Diamond Shreddies, and the rest is marketing history: An 18% jump in baseline sales in the campaign’s first month, and an awards show haul that included a Grand Clio and a Bronze Pencil at the One Show.

Other agency partners include Carat for media, The Kitchen for social, and Middle Child for PR and influencer.

Chris Powell