Kraft Bears

TLDR; I made a cool IoT project using teddy bears for Kraft and Rethink Canada.

Update: I don’t sell the bears. I can’t sell the bears. I can’t make new bears for sale. I appreciate all of you looking to buying the bears but it is what it is.

Update: Write up in Ad News

Update: Nice write up in Strategy Online

Update: A new commercial launched in spring 2018 with the bears.

This is the base rundown of the project. For a technical rundown, please see this post.

In early May 2017 I was called in for an informal chat at Rethink about a possible project. Under frienDA, I was told “We have this client with these two bears. We want the bears to tell each other when they’re being hugged. Want to give us an estimate on what that’d take?” I blurted out some insanely low number because I didn’t have a clue and said I’d go home and write an SOW (Statement Of Work) for them outlining more specific details. When I got home, an official NDA was waiting in my inbox followed by a briefing document. Kraft has these two teddy bears with bowties; green for smooth and red for crunchy. The ask was this; When one bear is hugged, the other bear’s bowtie will light up and vice versa. When both bears are hugged simultaneously, a sound will play. The bears will be paired only to each other. 10 pairs in total are required. The bears need to work across Canada. A bear in Vancouver must be able to activate a bear in Montréal, for instance.

I was very excited. Not only would this be a project I could sink my teeth into (peanut butter pun, anyone?), I like getting paid. So I geared up and started researching what I’d need to do.

Then came the email freelancers dread. “Looks like the client wants to put the project on hold. I’ll let you know when or if anything changes.” I was forced to bide my time. Then the miraculous happened. In early July I got the email that the project was back on! So I invoiced for the deposit on the prototype, ordered hardware and got to work.

I walked in three weeks later to a meeting with a prototype set up with swappable boards (wifi and GSM) to show how they functioned. Everyone liked the result and, with a small amount of revisions, I was good to go on the production bears. I delivered the final product in early October. Ten pairs of bears, only communicating with each other. GSM boards meant, as long as you can connect to the cellular network, you can successfully communicate with your paired bear.

I set up four wifi boards with identical firmware, added their IDs to the database and they were used for this commercial.

I am beyond pleased with my contribution.

This project wasn’t executed by me alone. I was happy to be able to include some people that allowed me to finish within the timeframe provided (possibly some late nights involved).

Stewart Russell. Stewart is a mechanical engineer and employee of Elmwood Electronics. He was integral in the component planning and wrote the initial bill of materials used in the prototype. He saved me a lot of research time in how to combine the components effectively. I bought nearly all the components for the prototype from Elmwood and truly appreciate their help and accommodation.

Jodi Crossingham. Jodi did all the sewing for me. She took the two prototype bears, disassembled them, sewed pockets, punched holes in the necks. Jodi did what I couldn’t and did it very well.

Ryan O’Brien. Ryan took all the boxes and my cutting templates. He spent a good ten hours cutting, drilling and prepping all the boxes for component inclusion. With a few hiccups, he did a great job. The amazing thing is, doing this has nothing to do with his normal skill-set. Which is being an amazing planner and developer.

Sean Holden. Sean spent an hour or so over pints helping me plan my database needs. At the end of the day, it sorted out my thinking. Thanks, Sean.

Benjamin Fox. I am not a full-stack developer. Ben is. When I approached Ben with my communication concept, he ran with it and generated the database and services. He was integral to the completion of the system and I can’t recommend him enough.

This project helped me realize a long-held skill of Technical Producer. I planned, managed and executed from start to finish. Need something built? Need me to run a project? Let’s talk!

79 thoughts on “Kraft Bears

    1. The bears I made were specifically for marketing purposes and are in the care of Rethink. Those bears aren’t for sale. Kraft ran a short contest to give away different versions of the bears but it’s over now. Kraft Bear Hugs

          1. I have a spécial need child in my famely, he cant tell us but he loves plush and it would show us even if he cant tell us. Its sad.

        1. It’s a crying shame! Why would they not make these! These are ingenious for kids and parents or siblings! Especially in separation or divorce situations! Bring them back Kraft! PLLEEEEEAAAAAASSSSSE!!!!

      1. It’s such a beautiful concept. I’m crying that I can’t buy one literally. I just had to leave my 2 1/2 year old son and these would have been really, really comforting. For both of us in the coming few years.

      2. I keep seeing your commercials for Keaft peanut butter with I always buy,when I see those two bears with the two bears with bow ties that light up,what a great idea,and so adorable,I am going to be a great grandmother in March,what a wonderful gift it would be for her and us to have to show how much we love each other,something to think about to make and sell them,they would be a hit,and you would sell very many,I could guarantee that,something to think about

  1. It is really too bad. These are adorable and my two youngest grandkids would love them. Any chance they will come up for sale in the near future?

    1. My understanding is they’re a seasonal thing. There is likely to be another give away next Christmas. I’m afraid I’m not in charge of that side of things and really only worked on the bears themselves.

  2. Please bring these bears back to the public my husband is looking to get a set for our granddaughter he doesn’t see her all the time and want her to know he is thinking of her by hugging the bear she is only 20 months old and is always asking for her papa

  3. Hi I’m Regina. Ok I have read so many comments by now. Since 2014 I was waiting on and of for the hug bears. I understand at that time it was just a promotion. But, now all this commercials show up on TV about the hug bears. So now I want to know, are they available again or not? Where? How much? Please, it’s been 4 long years already! Thank you very much. Regina

    1. I’m afraid that I only worked on the bears for the commercial. I’m not privy to the decisions of Kraft. I am happy to email my client, the agency who hired me, but I can’t guarantee any answers.

    1. These bears in particular were made for the agency, Rethink, on behalf of Kraft for the purposes of the commercial (the two bigs bears in Toronto and Vancouver). I don’t know Kraft’s plans concerning the bears.

  4. i would love to get these bears for a close friend that is fighting cancer that dos not live near me

  5. @kraft.. you’d be crazy not to sell these bears… everyone wants them, including me.. please sell the bears for everyone

  6. There is something similar to these but not that light up. offers Parihug bears that vibrate as the other one is held. So if one is held by someone the other one, no matter where at in the world, will vibrate softly. Hope this helps those who are interested in this specific concept of bear.

  7. Can anyone tell me where I can buy a set of Hugging Bears????
    I have to get them for a special niece of mine!
    Thanks so much

  8. I think somebody should start a marketing process for the light up bears.
    I’m sure they’ll sell read off the shelves. If I was to buy some I would have to buy four.
    I have two great grand children

  9. I want a couple too! I’m a single mom and my only child is leaving for college in the fall I’m going to miss her TERRIBLY!!!!!!!

  10. My granddaughter suffers from anxiety when she is away from home for a swim meet. Because of this problem, they pulled her from the final swim meet of the season. She is seeing a sport’s therapist but I thought these bears would be a means of comfort for her when she cannot see her parents. At away from home swim meets they sleep with teammates and are not allowed to see their parents. You would make a fortune with these bears as well as give your company a huge promotion.

  11. John Harrison, a professor in Wichita Kansas, created and patented this about 7 or 8 years ago. It was the same idea and spirit with two lights. So sad this beautiful idea is being used to sell peanut butter.

    1. You’re referring to Filimin, correct? I looked it up after seeing your comment. I don’t have an opinion on the whether or not something is valid based on its application. I get hired to make something and I make it. I’d mentioned early in the process that these are basically one function walkie talkies and that idea has been around forever.

  12. Would it be possible to create something similar using a completely different appearance. I’m curious because I have some stuffed animals that could work for it they have a gem instead.

  13. I would love to have these bears for my Grand daughter who lost her Mother.

    She says that when she goes to bed she pretends her Mommy is bugging her and then turns on to the other side and pretends I am hugging her. I would love to actually be able to send a love message to her as her father limits access to us since my daughter passed away.

    I would buy them for sure. Hopefully they will be offered to the public in the near future.

  14. Rethink should sell these Kraft bears and give part of the proceeds to Sick Kids Hospital. I know I would buy them!

  15. I know you don’t make & sell the bears but with all the things you can buy around the world, why oh why, do they not have these bears on the market? It’s unbelievable they’re not sold to the public. Kraft could open a new factory, hire people, produce bears & make a lot of money! And, the person who invented the bears (was it you?) could be making royalties! Sadly, things the public truly wants to buy never get made & sold…just junk we don’t need or want.

    1. I understand these seem like a no-brainer for Kraft to tackle but the cost per pair of bears would be prohibitive. I considered putting together a kit list to make your own but, again, the amount of work to make two and then make them work is a lot of fuss.

    1. I’m afraid they’re not for sale. Or at least the ones I made aren’t for sale. There are versions that light up for themselves when hugged but they have no connectivity online. And I don’t really think they’re available any more either. I simply don’t know for sure.

  16. You are a wonderful person taking time to respond to all of these people touched buy your work, you should be very proud. In a world that seems to be creating walls between people faster then we can break them down, your marketing innovation and people’s response to it is amazing.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Chris. I appreciate this “stunt” has touched people. Being able to communicate easily over a distance in this manner is sweet. I wish it were in my power to enable these for the everyday person.

  17. I understand that I can’t buy the Bears with the bowtie lighting up because they were just for the commercial.
    Why start using that campaign without making the Bears (without the lighting bowtie) available for sale. I know so many people that want to buy a set of the Bears so I’m asking you to please consider selling the regular Bears for the customers that have supported your company.

  18. Can I get an email of the hardware required to make the bears I know I cant buy them but I know I could make them please email me and let me know thank you

  19. COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. I am a gramma, and it’s 3:00 in the morning – why am I awake? Because I miss my granddaughter SO MUCH!! Face time doesn’t cut it – but the Bears would! Please appeal to Kraft – I know there are a lot of grandparents who would agree.

  20. I would love these bears for my three granddaughters, especially now with the covid pandemic. I cannot see them nor can I hug them. These would sell off the racks if they were online for sale right now. Would bring grandparents and grandchildren closer during these trying times. It is a shame. A wonderful idea though and I commend you for this concept. Please let me know if they are ever for sale. Thank you

  21. One of the most touching items that I have ever seen, especially in times like this. Great job!!! I hope one day this comes too consumers.

  22. Considering what the world is going through now, these bears would be PERFECT. I know that I, bring all alone would love to have a set so that I could communicate with someone else. I watch the commercial and it makes me cry and I wish I could have a connection like that.

  23. I would really like the bears for my to grandchild. Their grandpa is in the hospital after a serious plane accident. I would like the bears so they could send him hugs. Because of COVID they can’t visit. So my way of thinking ithe bear shouldn’t be advertised if you can’t purchase them

  24. Your work is so appreciated even just for the feeling of love in the commercial. In times like these, it means sooo much more. So wish they were available for purchase-but just enjoying the commercials.
    Thanks and stay safe!

  25. Because of covid i havent seen my grandsons in a yr and having these bears or something like it wood be awesome for me and them to reach out everyday

  26. I have a Grandson who we haven’t seen in almost 2 year they live in Edmonton Alberta , we miss them so much I would Love to be able to communicate with him true your bear please send me inf where I could get some every time I see you commercial I cry for him My name is Lisa and our Grandson is Greyson it would bring us so much closer since the Covid started we fell such a empty void in our life , we can’t visit we have to stay home we live in Riverview New Brunswick in Moncton New Brunswick if you could help s become close to him thanks

  27. With the pandemic every wee one needs these bears just to let them know their grandparents are sending hugs their way!

  28. I read all the comments and agree with all of them. During the worst time I have ever seen due to Covid I don’t understand why they can’t be made and sold. Go to Dragons Den and use all these comments and get these people to commit to purchase them. My father is in a retirement home and we can’t hug him. This would be the closest thing. Make sure you give grief to Kraft about this commercial if people can’t have them. It is plain cruel.

  29. Why does it have to be a bear? Could it be , a bunny or
    Unicorn or like a different shape like a neck rest one uses on an airplane maybe with a face or a half moon with a face that could be ,like a HUG sent over the miles …..and maybe the face would light up when you hugged it or when it hugged you…..just a thought shame to waste a million dollar idea! 76 yr young grammma…I would buy for grandsons many miles away……..

  30. In times like this the bears that light up should be for sale. Children and Grandparents need these bears. Please sell them. I don’t get to see my Grandchildren and these bears would be the best. I am stuck in the house 99% of the time and the bears would bring so much happiness. Please let me know if or when we can get them.

  31. They are awesome and lovable of keeping a love that is so unforgetable and emotional filling to near and far with just a big cuddable squeeze. with the unbelievable warmth of thinking of you at an instant HUG!!!!!!!!!! It is a great sense of someone is there thinking about you anyday or anytime just for you. An inspiration way of caring and feeling safe of reaching out to all !!!!!! Especially during this time of Covid we all are affected everywhere around the world. Lets all step up to plate and gived encouagment by just thinking of huggables Kraft bear sqeezes that will reach out to all. Everyone growing together to last a long liftime of loving and caring. the power of reaching out to join each other that you are not ALONE.!!!!!! Just the though and sqeeze will put a smile in the heart hope and a big glowing smile.

  32. It would be nice to have these beats since the covid no one is touching so this would be a good thing to have for people who have no one. Knowing they are loved

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