For a very limited time, Kraft launched a macaroni and cheese-flavored ice cream in collaboration with Brooklyn-based Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. Kraft Heinz is known for kitchen staples such as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Jell-O, and Kool-Aid while Van Leeuwen has a reputation for making high-quality ice cream without artificial flavors, preservatives, or dyes. The limited-edition collaboration is an example of cobranding.
What is Cobranding?
Cobranding is a type of strategic brand alliance that uses two or more brands on one product, leveraging the reputation of the individual brands to create a distinctive product. For example, Taco Bell sells Doritos Locos Tacos ongoing, and KFC offered a limited-edition Cheetos sandwich.
Usually, there is an overlap in the fan bases of the involved brands. An opportunity exists to increase that overlap. In the case of Kraft and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, there was also an opportunity to highlight an alignment in product features.
"Not only does it taste delicious, but it's also made with high-quality ingredients and contains no artificial flavors, preservatives, or dyes just like our Kraft Macaroni & Cheese," said Emily Violett, Kraft’s senior associate brand manager, in a news release.
Novelty Brand Product Extensions
Though novelty brand product extensions have been around for some time, they have experienced a surge in popularity. For example, the KFC Cheetos sandwich resulted in sales growth for both companies. These partnerships can create excitement among a brand’s fans, particularly younger audiences. Limited-edition releases are intended to sell out quickly.
The shock factor of these collaborations has also increased. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is certainly not synonymous with ice cream, but the surprising combination attracted valuable publicity and social media engagement. Many publications including Eater, Entrepreneur, CNN, Fast Company, and NPR covered the collaboration. Many referred to the stunt as “internet-breaking” because of the excitement. The ice cream pints sold out in an hour.
Another example of a shocking collaboration is Heinz and UK-based Innocent Drinks which released a breakfast smoothie made of beans called Beanz Machine. The rise in cobranding is likely to continue as companies, such as Kraft, experience success.
In the Classroom
This article can be used to discuss branding (Chapter 12: Dimensions of Marketing Strategy).
- What is cobranding? Can you think of any examples beyond those discussed in the article?
- Why are strategic brand alliances valuable?
- Why do you think novelty brand extensions create excitement and engagement with younger audiences?
This article was developed with the support of Kelsey Reddick for and under the direction of O.C. Ferrell and Linda Ferrell.
Alaa Elassar, "Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Ice Cream Debuts and Quickly Sells Out," CNN, July 24, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/24/business/kraft-macaroni--cheese-ice-cream-trnd/index.html
Amanda Breen, "What's the Secret Behind Van Leeuwen's Internet-Breaking Ice Cream Flavors? Hint: Egg Yolks and America's Obsession with Chunks Play a Surprising Role," Entrepreneur, October 18, 2021, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/390816
Jeff Beer, "Why Marketers Love Mashups, From Mac ‘N’ Cheese Ice Cream to Baked Bean Smoothies," Fast Company, July 16, 2021, https://www.fastcompany.com/90655417/why-marketers-love-mashups-from-mac-n-cheese-ice-cream-to-baked-bean-smoothies