"The Nanny" star-whose autobiography is titled "Enter Whining"-is noticeably absent from an estimated $20 million TV and print effort for M&M/Mars' 3 Musketeers that breaks April 5, and for a logical reason: The company has shifted its primary target from women to kids.
"The growth of 3 Musketeers over the last four years has been partially attributed to the popularity of the chocolate bar among women, who are drawn to its lower fat vs. most traditional chocolate bars," the company said in statement. It also noted, howevere, that the new campaign "marks the brand's decision to build on that popularity with kids."
Popularity hasn't been reflected in recent sales data. Information Resources Inc. figures show 3 Musketeers sales in food, drug and mass merchandisers fell 4.1% to $21 million for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 3. Snack-size bars, measured separately, dipped 1.6% in sales to $39.6 million. The figures don't include sales from vending machines, newsstands and certain other confection outlets.
An executive close to Mars acknowledged the company was casting about for a fresh direction since the 3 Musketeers campaign hadn't spiked sales. So Mars has ushered out the svelte Ms. Drescher and the tagline "Big on chocolate, not on fat."
In its place: animated versions of the swashbucklers Athos, Porthos and D'Artagnan from the Alexandre Dumas classic novel.
READY FOR A CHALLENGE
In the first four spots, the trio engages in a number of action-adventure scenarios to foil evil. The tagline: "Nothing can stand in your way."
"Active kids can relate to these animated characters because they are always ready for a challenge and will continue to pursue their goals despite any obstacles," said a Mars spokeswoman.
The ads will stress how the brand contains "a lot of pumped up chocolate yet won't slow them down," the company said.
While human versions of the 3 Musketeers have appeared in some of the brand's recent campaigns, the new effort takes a page from a proven Mars formula. Stop-motion animation is the hallmark of the ubiquitous M&M's campaign from BBDO Worldwide, New York. While the 3 Musketeers advertising is handled by UniWorld Group, New York, animator Will Vinton Studios worked on both efforts.
HEAVY KIDS' MEDIA
In keeping with the expanded target, the new 3 Musketeers campaign will run on kids' TV programming such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Fox Kids. The print ads will run in publications that target kids, as well as those that reach parents and women.
Mars didn't disclose spending on the campaign, but last year it doled out $17 million in measured spending for the brand, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Separately, Mars' Milky Way bar has been reformulated and is being repositioned. Ads that play up the "best caramel ever" will break this spring via D'Arcy