How Marketing Put the Philly in Philadelphia Cream Cheese

Jul 2, 2019

Philadelphia Cream Cheese is from Philly, right?

Some may be surprised to learn that the spreadable cheese has never been produced, developed or packaged in the city of Philadelphia throughout the brand’s 130-plus-year history. In fact, the product itself has absolutely nothing to do with the City of Brotherly Love.

So why is it called Philadelphia Cream Cheese?

Originally created by New Yorkers Alvah Reynolds and William Lawrence, Philadelphia Cream Cheese was named after Philadelphia thanks to the city’s reputation at the time. In the mid-1800s, Philadelphia was known for its highly fertile grazing land that fed healthy milk-producing cattle. As such, the city’s reputation for creating some of the country’s best cheese products spread up and down the east coast.

Philly had a Reputation for Good Cheese

Described by one cream cheese historian as a “marketing genius,” Reynolds decided to take advantage of Philadelphia’s good reputation by smearing the city’s name on his own product’s packaging and associating the spread with Philadelphia’s green pastures and happy cows.

The rest is history. Philadelphia Cream Cheese today is the most popular mass-produced cream cheese in the country. According to Statista, 58 percent of American’s choose the brand first, and it outsells its closest competitor by 10 to one. After being acquired three times by larger parent companies over more than a century of business, the Philadelphia brand name lives on today.

Long story short: The positive reputation of a particular location, experience or feeling can easily stick to your own product or service merely by association. While naming your product after a city or location isn’t right for every brand, an association with the positive things in life has a valuable place in any marketing strategy.

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Ben Cooper.

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