Ritz Marches to the Beat of its own Digital Drummer

The holidays are deemed the most wonderful time of the year for good reason. The constant flow of parties, presents, family, and food is enough to get any Scrooge into a celebratory mood. But preparing for the holiday hoopla can spread moms a little thin. To help moms savor the season, Mondel?z International cracker brand Ritz launched The Great Ritz Holiday Parade—a “march across the Internet” that helps moms prepare for the holidays through content and offers.

The Great Ritz Holiday Parade is a digital spectacular that promenades recipes, deals, holiday tips, and entertainment across several websites from Thanksgiving to Christmas, says Katrina Cohen, senior brand manager of Ritz. For example, on December 10, Ritz featured an ad on daily deal site Living Social. Consumers who visited Living Social that day could redeem a $10 off promotional code for their next deal purchase. Cohen says that Ritz chose its media partners based on which companies could provide the content and deals needed to help mom cross off her holiday to-do list. She also says that Ritz particularly targeted moms who hadn’t purchased Ritz crackers in a while to grow the brand and keep it top of mind when moms are purchasing crackers for their holiday festivities.

“[The parade] helps [mom] have fun by helping her with the things that get in the way of fun,” Cohen says. “And [Ritz is] really looking to create an emotional connection with its customers during the holiday season because it’s a big season for crackers. People are entertaining at home a lot, and we want them to choose Ritz when choosing crackers for their holiday entertaining.”

To better pinpoint moms’ holiday strains, Ritz partnered with MediaVest and had the media agency sift through more than 10 million social mentions from the past two holiday seasons. The cracker company also looked at search data and trends via NetBase and Google Trends. Ritz noticed that interest in certain themes—such as entertaining, decorating, travel, and cards—surged at particular times during the weeks leading up to Christmas. The brand then tailored its content and “parade route” accordingly to address the concerns moms were most worried about at the times they were most worried about them. For example, Ritz offered a $10 photo studio credit at Walmart on December 5 because the data showed that moms were concerned about getting their greeting cards out early.

“As you looked week by week, things really spiked,” Cohen says.

And consumers don’t have to watch the parade from the sidelines—they can participate in it. Visitors to ritzparade.com can design their own cracker-inspired floats, which Ritz showcases on the campaign’s site. Participants can also opt to share their floats via Facebook or Twitter. And to make sure that they don’t miss a single parade stop, consumers can track the route via Ritz’s social channels and ritzparade.com.

In addition to the digital parade, the campaign features TV spots (including one during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade), in-store advertising, and a sweepstakes in partnership with Food Network in which participants could win a trip to New York to watch the Macy’s Day Parade and eat at a Food Network restaurant next Thanksgiving. Along with MediaVest, Ritz worked with creative agency Havas, PR agency Weber Shandwick, and VaynerMedia for social.

Cohen admits that working with so many partners made the parade complicated to execute, especially because the brand needed the partners to coordinate to create a seamless experience for its customers. “If our whole goals is to help our consumers get through the holidays and focus on the fun, the last thing we’d want to do is make this very complicated for them,” she says. “It had to be easy.”

Consumers have already designed a “couple thousand” floats, Cohen says. However, driving brand loyalty is the tastiest result of all.

“It’s about building loyalty to the brand and making consumers feel good about purchasing Ritz,” Cohen says. “It’s about rekindling that love for that brand and building an emotional connection with consumers so that when they go to the store they choose Ritz.”

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