Brand Audit: Cracker Jack

While I was getting my car washed today, I was browsing the convenience store inside and noticed a bag of Cracker Jack sitting on the shelf.  If there’s a brand that can stake claim to a “You Can’t Buy That!” equity, it’s Cracker Jack.  I mean for crying out loud: their brand name is sung by millions and millions of people during the 7th Inning Stretch at every single baseball game across the country throughout the summer.  Plus, they’re the brand KNOWN for the ‘Surprise Inside!

So what’s the deal with this brand?  Other than “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” you don’t hear much about this iconic brand.  Let’s do a quick Brand Audit on Cracker Jack.

Packaging: Cracker Jack’s packaging seems to be up to date.  The Sailor Jack and Bingo (his dog) illustration are modern and the rest of the package design is clean.  They’re trying to appeal to”healthy snack eaters” by including the “zero trans fat” on the front.

Cracker Jack Packaging

Pricing: The bag shown here is line priced with the rest of Frito Lay’s snacks at $.99/bag.  Cracker Jack is probably perceived to be a little cheaper than brands that have huge ad spends like Doritos, but I don’t think there would be much lift if the price was a dime or two cheaper – so it seems to be in the right spot.

Unfortunately, after packaging and pricing, there isn’t much good to say.  In fact there isn’t much to talk about at all.

Advertising: According to their website, Cracker Jack’s last TV ad was in 1999.  But here’s the problem, it’s not available on YouTube.  I’m not sure if they do any print/radio/OOH – but I seriously doubt it.

Website: It looks like the last time it was really updated was in 2002.  And the more I look at it, this might have been Cracker Jack’s FIRST (and only) website.

  • It has a little bit of flash (and I mean a LITTLE bit)
  • Straightforward navigation, and a whopping seven total pages.
  • Decent content about the history of the brand, but nothing that engages consumers.
  • The only way you can “reach” Cracker Jack is via US Mail or Phone (normal biz hours).  No email offered.
  • There is a slight tie-in with Major League Baseball.  You can download a Collector’s Sheet for the MLB-themed Special Prizes.  I guess they did a promotion where boxes would have an MLB team’s logo on a sticker as the Special Prize inside.  That’s m guess – as I’m not totally sure what the deal was.  I will give them credit – the logos on the Collector’s Sheet were up-to-date.

Web Presence: It would be safe to assume that with their website being as basic as it is, their web presence would be lacking.  But I was amazed at how lacking it is.  I googled “Cracker Jack” and the top four listings pointed to something brand related (website, wikipedia, NPR piece) but nothing after that.  I even did a blog search – nothing other than derogatory uses of the phrase “Cracker Jack” – i.e. “This Cracker Jack blogger doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about!”

Promotion: What really chaps my ass is their weak effort to tie in with baseball.  They should be all over that shit and it doesn’t have to license the MLB properties – which probably sucks up their entire yearly marketing budget.  What about Little League?  What about college baseball?  What about JUST BASEBALL?!

Either way, they gotta OWN baseball.  No other brand can take the baseball association away from them, but they’re not leveraging this equity into sales.  Buying a box of Cracker Jack was once a rite of passage at ballgames.  Now, it’s just a line in a song.

All in all, it’s pretty obvious to me that no one at Frito Lay is managing this brand.  I seriously believe that they re-up their contract with Major League Baseball once a year because that makes them feel like they did something.  And then MAYBE an Associate Brand Manager (from another brand) calls the web design firm once a year to make a couple small changes.  That’s it.

Doesn’t this brand deserve a little better than being sent off to pasture?


5 thoughts on “Brand Audit: Cracker Jack

  1. You are so right on with this analysis. I’d really like to see the product improve – even at a price increase. Every time I’ve opened a bag — no longer a box — of Cracker Jacks at a game, I think to myself, “they just keep getting cheaper and cheaper.” The box was part of the branding to me — Cracker Jacks makes me think of baseball tradition. So anything new, like the bag, is sort of a disappointment. The prizes suck, and there are barely any nuts in the product anymore. Now the product just looks like any other cheapo bag of popcorn you could purchase at any liquor store POP display. Missed branding opportunities, indeed.

  2. I agree with Tracey. The Cracker Jack box was always part of the experience for me. I’m shocked that they did away with the box. Cracker Jack and the animal crackers you could buy in the little ‘tote box’ that had the string handle were always favorite snacks in our family. I don’t recall necessarily loving either for them for the way they tasted but rather for the ‘surprise inside’ or that stupid string that allowed me to carry my snacks around by a handle.

  3. I was always disappointed when they heavily downgraded the quality of the toy. Now, I’m going back almost 40 years here in my recollection of the toy. But, the bag of CJ I had recently sucked, and the toy inside sucked even more.

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