c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

New commercials for Bella, a kitchen appliance brand, highlight its coffee makers, toasters, juicers and slow cookers, but the product that gets the most screen time is one that Bella doesn’t make: a smartphone.

The advertising campaign, the first for the brand, which is owned by Sensio, is aimed at so-called millennial consumers from 21 to 36. The commercials encourage using smartphones to post about Bella to social networks.

In one new commercial, morning light fills a kitchen, where a woman in her 20s brews a pot of coffee and is buttering toast when a young man in boxer shorts and a T-shirt sneaks up from behind and embraces her. As they nuzzle and feed each other toast, she snaps self-portraits with her smartphone, and then uploads one to Instagram, a photo-sharing social network.

Another new commercial for the campaign opens with the same actress scrolling through photos of a dinner party on Instagram on her smartphone, and then flashes back to the dinner party, where three different guests are taking photos on their smartphones.

There is no dialogue or voice-over in the spots, which close with the Bella logo and a hashtag, #myBELLAlife.

The campaign, which will appear only online, is by MODCo Creative, an advertising and branding agency in New York. Social media strategy is by the Media Grind, a digital marketing agency in Santa Monica, Calif.

Online banner ads will appear widely, including on YouTube, Hulu and the Kitchn. The budget for the campaign, which is being introduced Friday, is estimated at about $500,000.

Introduced as Bella Cucina in 2004 with novelty products like a quesadilla maker, the brand shifted focus in 2011, changing its name to Bella and introducing a line of colorful and affordable everyday appliances like coffee makers and toasters.

Shae Hong, 36, who co-founded the company in 2003, said the shift two years ago was to appeal to his contemporaries, who he says are not the primary focus of higher-end brands like Cuisinart and KitchenAid.

“Everyone else was targeting baby boomers, and most of those heritage brands don’t really relate to younger consumers,” Hong said. “We decided we were going to stand for something else in housewares — we were going to become the brand for millennials.”

Sales of small appliances in the United States grew 15 percent for the first six months of 2013 over the same period a year ago, to $2.5 billion, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm. The biggest increases came from blender-mixer-chopper combinations (like those made by Vitamix or the Bella Rocket Blender), with sales up 83 percent over the period. Espresso maker sales were up 73 percent and juice extractors up 45 percent.

Advertising in the category typically highlights appliances’ features or the meals they produce, often employing so-called tabletop directors and food stylists to get every morsel just so. But Sara Rotman, chief executive of MODCo, said there was no food stylist used for the commercials, which avoided highlighting product features, too.

“Rather than specifically being about how to make a meal or what to do with a juicer, Bella products become part of the social experience and part of their life like another friend in the room,” Rotman said.

The object of the campaign, Rotman said, is to establish Bella as “much more of a lifestyle brand and human brand” over stressing functionality.

As for the prevalence of smartphones in the spots, Rotman said it would be unrealistic to depict millennials without the devices.

“If we had a group of 55-year-olds in the commercial tweeting constantly, I feel like it would be a disconnect,” Rotman said. “We encourage sharing but we think that portraying millennials in this way is authentic in and of itself.”


On Vine, a mobile app for creating and sharing short video clips, the brand is hiring popular users to post videos about Bella, namely Brittany Furlan, who has 3.3 million followers; Rudy Mancuso, who has 2.2 million followers; and Meagan Cignoli, who has 385,000 followers.

A website for the campaign will feature videos, images or messages that users have tagged on social media sites, including Pinterest and Facebook. On the site, visitors are asked to contribute videos or photographs about how they “keep it cool in the kitchen,” and one randomly chosen user who uses the Bella hashtag before Dec. 30 will win $2,500.


Debra Mednick, a home industry analyst at the NPD Group, said that most people who buy kitchen appliances are over 45, and that brands around a century old like Hamilton Beach and KitchenAid may resonate more with older consumers.

“So many brands are heritage brands that have been around a long time so their consumers are older,” said Mednick, who liked the idea of a brand’s taking aim at younger consumers. “Because the demand has generally been older, trying to stir interest in the category from the younger age set is really smart.”

For his part, Hong, the chief executive, acknowledges he may lose newly acquired consumers to more expensive brands when they get older.

“Brands on the premium end like All-Clad and Cuisinart are pretty unattainable for this younger age group,” Hong said. “They might get those through their registry when they get married, but they aren’t usually buying at that price point yet.”