Cannes Lions


DROGA5, New York / KRAFT-HEINZ / 2019

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It’s been 147 years since Philadelphia first invented cream cheese, and today, it still remains one of America’s most beloved brands. It’s bought by 58 percent of American households and outsells its nearest competitor more than 10 to one. But with penetration dropping among millennials, the brand is aware that it can’t rest on laurels. They need to remain relevant and build loyalty among a generation notorious for being irreverent toward iconic brands. So, we kept our ear to the ground, looking for opportunities to prove we're an icon to love.

When the conversation around Apple’s obvious oversight exploded, Philadelphia knew they had take a stand. Our objective was clear: fix the #SadBagel emoji by getting Apple to add a schmear of cream cheese to it. As the authority on cream cheese, we wanted to amplify the issue and unite millennial bagel lovers to help create the change.


Everyone knows that a bagel isn’t a bagel without cream cheese. But it seems Apple never got the memo. When they revealed their new bagel emoji on October 2, bagel lovers were quick to unleash their anger on this dry, sad bagel online. As the inventors of cream cheese, Philadelphia knew they were they only ones who could make a stand. With an agile approach, we led a real-time social campaign that rallied the world behind righting this bagel travesty. Within 10 days, the tech giant had listened—updating their emoji to include a spread of cream cheese. The win saw global publicity and a very grateful Jimmy Kimmel.


When Apple and Unicode released the new #SadBagel emoji on October 2, the Internet was outraged. Philadelphia saw the opportunity and jumped in rapidly to lead the social conversation. On October 4, we posted paid and organic social posts across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to begin seeding the conversation and generating awareness. Then, we actively engaged with consumers through a Twitter poll and a petition to keep the conversation going. Ultimately, this generated real-world results with widespread earned PR coverage and, most importantly, with Apple releasing an updated emoji. To celebrate the win, we tweeted at Apple and Unicode with a thank-you basket of bagels featuring a heaping schmear of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Our strategy was to move as quickly as possible to maintain timeliness during a key human-interest moment that was relevant to both the brand and culture at large.


As a brand intrinsically tied to bagels, Philadelphia monitored the conversation around the emoji. Once conversation had begun to hit a critical mass, Philadelphia entered the discussion on Twitter. First, we tweeted at Apple with an image of our revised version of the emoji, complete with Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Next, we posted a poll asking consumers which version of the emoji they preferred.

As the poll caught fire, we looked for more opportunities to turn this online discourse into a movement. We launched a petition on, which was promoted across our social channels. As we gathered signatures, we also engaged with the generators of the initial social conversation with bespoke responses.

Within 10 days, Apple released a revised version of the emoji—this time featuring a generous schmear of cream cheese. We celebrated with fans on social and even tweeted an offer to send bagels to Apple’s HQ.


Attaching ourselves to the #BagelGate conversation on social paid off in a massive upswing in earned PR coverage for Philadelphia.The campaign achieved 401M+ earned-media impressions ($4.2M in ad value) as well as 7M+ social impressions. The massive media coverage spread across a wide range of 300+ outlets in the United States and abroad.

The biggest driver of reach was inclusion in general news outlets like People, USA Today and over 200 local television news stations. Outlets addressed our campaign directly, citing Philadelphia’s tweet and the results of our poll and petition.

Notably, the coverage spanned across vertical. Philadelphia was cited in millennial culinary outlets, keeping us top of mind with our key target. Coverage then expanded into tech and business outlets, reaching beyond our typical brand spheres.

Most importantly, Apple listened and rereleased the bagel emoji that everyone deserved, now featuring a generous schmear of cream cheese.

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