January 29, 2009, - 3:03 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
For the record, I do not consume Velveeta. That’s because it’s not kosher, but even if it were, it doesn’t look like I’d like it, and it is quite calorie-laden. Moreover, it’s not even real cheese. It’s a “pasteurized prepared cheese product,” which is a hifalutin’ way of saying, “not cheese, but something like it made out of chemicals and a tiny bit of some cheese derivatives.”
Still, I find Velveeta’s latest Super Bowl marketing idea interesting. Super Bowl Sunday is Velveeta’s biggest day of the year, as hundreds of thousands of Americans (perhaps tens of millions even) consume Velveeta queso dip with chips.
And also on Sunday, 2,500 lucky women (out of 15,000 who applied) will host free house parties, courtesy of Velveeta producer Kraft foods.
Trying to get more consumers to dip their chips into Velveeta, Kraft turned to House Party Inc., an Irvington, N.Y., marketing firm whose specialty is setting up parties to promote clients’ products.
Using its database, House Party emailed Internet-savvy women ages 25 to 50, Velveeta’s target market, offering them the chance to host a game-day party featuring Velveeta. Both House Party and Kraft also promoted the offer on their Web sites. More than 15,000 women applied, and 2,500 Velveeta lovers were chosen.
The hostesses, who won’t be paid for their services, get “party packs” containing a 32-ounce package of Velveeta, take-home plastic Velveeta storage containers for 16 guests, a recipe for chili con queso dip — along with the requisite cans of diced tomatoes and green chilies — a spinach dip recipe, a dip bowl, a couple of bags of Ritz toasted chips, snack-bag clips, Velveeta coupons, Kool-Aid and cups. House Party said it couldn’t estimate the value of the party packs.
Kraft is doing this in the hope that people who sample the free Velveeta at these Super Bowl house parties “after sampling the product, will serve it regularly at home, as well as talk up its taste.” To that, I say, good luck. There are many foods that one might eat at a Super Bowl party that you simply can’t afford to serve every day . . . for the sake of your health.
Kraft admits that sales of Velveeta are on the decline. However, the economy is bad, and it’s far cheaper than real cheddar cheese. So you never know. We are all especially price sensitive.
Since I studied marketing when I earned my MBA degree (and while in business school I and three friends won a national award for our Rogaine advertising campaign), I think I have a better idea.
Even though women are often the buyers of household cooking ingredients, a prime Velveeta target market is single guys. If I were Kraft, I’d look for men to host Velveeta Man Cave parties, with all kinds of quick foods and snacks using Velveeta, which are easy to make and which can translate into an every day after-work or lunchtime meal for a single guy. I don’t think the women’s house parties will do anything for Velveeta, since most women are already aware of the product and possible uses of Velveeta. Single men–that’s the ticket.
In the past Kraft has been successful with Philadelphia cream cheese and Grey Poupon mustard house parties. Now, that’s a party I’d love to host.