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Kraft Heinz, Oprah announce retail food line

Marketing experts weigh in on celebrity, grocery viability

The Kraft Heinz Co. and Oprah Winfrey’s joint partnership, Mealtime Stories LLC, has launched a line of retail comfort food products.

O, That’s Good! is the pair’s inaugural offering and consists of four soups and four sides at price points of $4.99 and $4.49, respectively.

Kraft Heinz believes that when the cold-storage items launch in October they will capitalize on a climbing subsector of the market.

Photo: Kraft Heinz

“Refrigerated products are on the rise, and we saw an opportunity to drive excitement in this section of the store with convenient soups and sides made with real ingredients and easy preparation,” said Nina Barton, senior vice president of marketing, innovation and research & development for the U.S. business at Kraft Heinz.

The company is equally bullish on its running mate, Oprah, and Barton praised the media icon’s ability to help “add unbeatable taste and quality that is sure to please everyone at the table.”

Oprah expressed equal excitement about the venture.

“I love healthy foods and eating from my garden,” said Winfrey in a prepared statement. “When Kraft Heinz approached me for a food line, what got my attention is making nutritious comfort foods more accessible to everyone. This product line is real, delicious food with a twist. You’ll feel good about serving it for your family.”

The partnership pairs a company with a long history of success in the food and retail sectors with a star who made her name in a very different industry. 

Kate Murphy, director of strategic partnerships at the social marketing platform Crowdtap, weighed in on the strategy.

“Celebrity endorsements can provide immense value to a product/brand when done right,” Murphy said. “If a celebrity aligns with a product, they bring a level of trust and familiarity to the table.” 

Murphy cautioned that a level of authenticity is important, regardless of a given celebrity’s spotlight.

“If the partnership feels inauthentic or out of place, that trust is lost and it reflects poorly on both the brand and the individual,” Murphy said.

“It's crucial for brands to invest in partnerships with influencers/celebrities who share the same brand values and passion points, as the best endorsements are those that feel like extensions of the individual's personal brand.”

In this case, she feels that Kraft Heinz succeeded in meeting those benchmarks, especially in light of Oprah’s past work in the weight loss and nutrition field. 

“Oprah is clearly a powerhouse and brings a hugely trusting and engaged audience to Kraft Heinz's new line,” said Murphy. “This particular partnership feels authentic as it's very much in line with Oprah's love for super tasty comfort food whilst keeping health and nutrition in mind.”

“Considering her involvement in Weight Watchers,” Murphy continued, “along with her very public weight loss journey over the years, this seems like a very natural progression into the food space for Oprah, and I'm sure she'll bring a very loyal following along for the ride.”

Dr. Ioannis Kareklas, professor of marketing at the University at Albany, concurs with Murphy’s analysis. 

"Though Oprah is not a known expert in the area of healthy foods, she will nonetheless undoubtedly be a valuable spokesperson and endorser for this new brand,” Kareklas said.

“While the academic literature suggests that celebrities will, in most cases, only be suitable spokespeople for brands within their area of expertise (this is known as the "match-up hypothesis"), Oprah is a trend maker with a huge and passionate following and can thus bring substantial value to any brand."

Kraft Heinz is currently the third largest food and beverage company in North America. The company has a dual headquarters in Pittsburgh and Chicago.

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