Peek Freans gets romantic with Harlequin heroes

In a promo for Kraft's Lifestyle Selections cookies, Peek Freans' new online contest is encouraging women to be mischievous - and win an exotic Harlequin-inspired adventure of their own.

Women who love cookies and romance novels are encouraged to indulge in both with the latest campaign from Kraft’s Peek Freans Lifestyle Selections. In a partnership with Harlequin, the Toronto-based publishing company whose name is synonymous with the romance genre, the cookie co is driving women to an online contest where they can download a new novel, write their own tantalizing e-novella, or enter to win a romantic vacation to Montana, Prague or Hawaii – the same locations where the heroine meets her studs.

On the Peek Freans website, women can download the lusty Montana Royalty, authored by B.J. Daniels, in the discreet, ‘boss-friendly’ format – the novel is written in bullet form on a PowerPoint presentation. Out in the real world, women in Toronto may have been approached by a handsome prince or sheriff, handing out samples of the latest vanilla bean latte flavour over the past several weeks. In a direct-mail component, about 400,000 doorhangers that look like a Harlequin novel were distributed across Canada, encouraging women to visit the site and enter the contest.

‘We’re making it fun and entertaining because at the end of the day, they’re still cookies – they’re better-for-you cookies – but it still needs to feel like a treat. And there are other ways to indulge,’ says Vanessa Grekov, senior product manager at Peek Freans Lifestyle Selection Cookies. Harlequin approached Kraft because they have a similar target – women aged 25 to 55 – and their strategies in reaching them align, Grekov added. The campaign was developed by Draft FCB and MacLaren Momentum of Toronto.

For the past four years the cookie business has been sweet for Kraft, as sales of Peek Freans nearly doubled since the launch of the Lifestyle Selections category in 2005. Peek Freans Lifestyle Selections experienced 73.9% revenue growth in 2008 over 2007. And while it’s hard to determine how much of that is as a result of marketing, Grekov does credit the success to the key consumer insight that women do not want to be reminded of what they’re missing in a full-fat treat.

‘Instead of focusing on the absence of the negative, meaning less sugar, less fat, we focused on the positive, the added nutrition and unique flavours,’ Grekov tells MiC. ‘Women know that when they eat a cookie they’re feeling a little bit bad, but Peek Freans Lifestyle cookies are good for you so you’re going to have to find other ways to be bad.’