Online Sweepstakes Winners Will Join Kraft Advisory Board

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Kraft Foods Inc. will launch an online sweepstakes May 1 designed to attract people to be sounding boards for meal ideas and resources for at-home cooking.


Called "The Search for the Kraft Connections Circle," the contest runs under the auspices of Kraft Connections, a new multimedia effort to provide consumers with mealtime ideas using items commonly stocked in their pantries and at supermarkets.


"Basically, we're trying to find the champions of mealtime memories to be on our advisory board, people that we can kind of connect with over the next year to get their viewpoint and perspective," said David Ervin, manager for food and family at Kraft Foods, Glenview, IL.


Located at www.kraftfoods.com, the sweepstakes is part of an integrated push to reach consumers via the Web, in-store displays, Sunday newspaper inserts and wireless.


To enroll, consumers click on the Kraft Connections Circle tab on the kraftfoods.com home page. The next page requests the name and address of entrants. Contestants make their case through a 150-word essay on why they or the person they nominate should sit on the Kraft Connections Circle board. In particular, they have to answer: "How do I/we make lifelong memories at mealtime?"


"We're looking for 10 members to become part of it," Ervin said, "and we're looking for participants who show us what they do in everyday meals or barbecue cookouts that really allow us to understand why they're the champion of mealtime and why we should have them on our advisory board."


Participants also can mail in their sweepstakes entries. The promotion will run through August 31.


Winners not only become advisory board members but also receive a Palm VII hand-held personal digital assistant with Internet access, a gift basket of Kraft products and $200 cash. Moreover, board members get to visit the Kraft kitchens in the company's Glenview facility for discussions on mealtime ideas.


"We'll have frequent communications with the board again to improve our services and resources," Ervin said. "They also will provide insight on content for all of our publications - Web, in-store and newspaper."


The sweepstakes, a first for Kraft Connections, comes a year after Kraft named its first advisory board for additional consumer insight on mealtime issues.


Ervin said that Kraft currently has no intent to market to sweepstakes participants without their express permission. The demographic data collected is only for contact purposes.


Kraft Connections itself debuted last month. This service network is meant to offer solutions for everyday consumer dilemmas in meal preparation. Besides a recipe box on kraftfoods.com, a site that gets 1 million hits each month, the program has various elements.


For example, Dinner on Hand offers meal ideas using only a few ingredients found in the kitchen. The tips are available via kraftfoods.com, Kraft dinner product packages, in-store stand-alone displays and free seasonal recipe leaflets in the meats area of grocery stores.


In support are periodic drops of the Food & Family insert in Sunday newspapers nationwide. The publication showcases articles, coupons for Kraft products and recipes.


Palm V and VII users with Internet access can peruse a kraftfoods.com site tailored for wireless application.


Kraft Connections is based on a company-conducted Kraft Kitchens Study that showed families are looking for more ready-to-assemble meal alternatives in order to spend more time with one another.


Conducted every five years since 1980, the study also identifies the most commonly used ingredients and appliances in U. S. kitchens, research geared to help the marketer understand changing consumer needs. Information from the study is combined with insights from focus groups and consumer advisory boards to create recipes, resources and programs to boost at-home meal preparation. Sales of Kraft products may benefit by such association.


"[But] it all kind of goes back to this idea of Kraft Connections," Ervin said. "Kraft is trying to unify its service network."


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