Cheese Yes, Cheesy No: Philadelphia Taps The Power Of Friendship


You've got a friend in Philly


From indulgent angels to dim-witted workmates, cream cheese brand Philadelphia has had its share of memorable campaigns over the decades. But recent ads for the Kraft brand haven’t stood out as much, and despite being one of Britain’s best known dairy brands Philadelphia had never managed a 4-Star or higher commercial.

Until now – a full repositioning by WPP’s All-Stars team has resulted in this charming new ad which celebrates two women’s lifelong friendship. The 20-second execution cuts down a few scenes from the full-length film but leaves the feelgood factor intact, as a strong 4.5-Star score shows. It’s comfortably the best Philadelphia ad we’ve seen, and in fact it’s the top scoring ad for any cheese brand on the Test Your Ad platform.

It’s a simple execution with plenty of humour and feelgood moments – and a nostalgic soundtrack digging up a David Essex hit. Behind the simplicity though is a great deal of research and planning to bring clarity to the brand and position it in a modern marketplace. Historically, Philadelphia has had mixed messaging – is it a creamy, heavenly indulgence? A quick and versatile snack for busy women? A lighter bite for healthier lifestyles? At different times it’s tried to be all of these.

What the brand and its agency team have done with this new campaign is to step back from that and look at the social role Philadelphia plays – a brand that’s a companion in moments of bonding and friendship, from playground lunch sharing to wedding day buffets. Rather than shifting around between claimed benefits, the brand is finding a more universal role it can play.

There’s also plenty to admire about the execution – it’s an ad with bags of human togetherness and shared gestures and looks, exactly the kind of thing which wins the broader attention of the right brain. And despite the emphasis on the story there’s strong enough branding to achieve a good Fluency score, above the category average. It’s a great start to the brand’s new positioning with lots of room to go even higher, as future ads have fun with the basic platform of friendship and female bonding this one establishes.

What it all adds up to is a commercial with a clarity of purpose that helps it work well and land its emotional moments. Brand positioning for a long-running product is as much about what you don’t do, claim or stand for as about what you actually do. A lot of work goes into understanding that, and a lot of creativity goes into making sure the results feel good to audiences. It takes complex work to be this simple.

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