Lunchables’ back-to-school hotline teaches personal safety

Dive Brief:

  • Lunchables, the lunch kits marketed by Kraft Heinz’s Oscar Mayer brand, introduced an interactive hotline that families can call to learn more about personal safety procedures as kids begin returning to school amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 1-877-BTS-RULZ hotline will be available until Sept. 11, according to a company announcement.
  • The hotline features a choose-your-own-adventure audio experience starring the brand’s Platy the platypus and Jackie the rabbit characters. After choosing whether to start at music or art class, students take a journey with twists and turns while learning about school rules around washing hands, wearing face masks and social distancing.
  • Lunchables also introduced three 15-second videos titled “New School Rules” that also teach lessons on personal safety at school. Kids and parents can learn more about the hotline by visiting the Lunchables website, or follow the brand on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, per its announcement.

Dive Insight:

Lunchables aims to key into conversations around the new school year through an interactive audio experience, which is automated to let callers make choices about which journey they want to take while learning about personal safety. While a hotline may be a somewhat dated concept amid the growth of other interactive channels, it’s accessible to millions of people who have a landline or smartphone. The hotline also gives Lunchables a chance to immerse consumers in a brand-safe experience that supports positive feelings toward its line of lunch kits.

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The Lunchables campaign comes as parent company Kraft Heinz ramps up its advertising to support sales growth amid a rapidly shifting environment for makers of packaged foods. While the Lunchables effort is geared for families who are preparing to send their kids back to school, many students plan to stay home for distance learning, which may mean they’ll eat home-prepared meals instead of lunch kits. Lunchables still has an opportunity to connect with harried parents seeking an easy way to prepare lunch for kids at home or in schools.

The hotline arrives two years after Oscar Mayer introduced a similar calling feature to solicit feedback from consumers after declaring that hot dogs should be considered sandwiches. The brand urged people to call and argue why it should change its category or share other thoughts about its position in the debate. The campaign gave the brand a chance to participate in online discussions about classifying hot dogs as sandwiches as the debate occasionally resurfaces on social media.

Lunchables is among the brands that have created hotlines manned by real people within broader campaigns. For Mother’s Day, juice brand Tropicana introduced a brunch hotline to help home chefs prepare food for the occasion by answering questions that people ask of their moms. Sabra Dipping, the maker of hummus and other snacks, last year set up a phone service to help people prepare vegan food for guests at summer barbecues. The hotline provided free “Rescue Kits” with vegan-friendly flatbread recipes, coupons and themed laptop stickers.

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