$6 million effort: Dove targets the chocoholic

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Masterfoods USA is undertaking a major marketing push this fall for its Dove Promises dark and milk chocolate for the first time in nearly a decade, reaching out to chocolate fiends through a hefty print media buy and sampling in high-end locales.

The effort follows a realization that Dove, Masterfoods' only entry in the "tableted chocolate" segment, was growing on its own without support, said Mark Mattia, VP-chocolate at the Mars unit. "[Dove] hasn't been of primary importance in the past compared to mega-brands like Snickers and M&M's," Mr. Mattia said. But now, he said, Masterfoods understands there is a segment of the population that enjoys pure chocolate and has shown a growing interest in Dove. The company intends to reach out to the untapped market and "satisfy their needs in a bigger way," he said.

Dove Promises, the bite-size version of the pure Dove chocolate, is the largest piece of the franchise, with sales in food, drug and mass outlets excluding Wal-Mart up 9.9% to $22 million for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 10, according to Information Resources Inc. Dove's seasonal chocolate sales for Valentine's Day, Easter and Christmas totaled nearly $40 million for the same time period, and single candy bars grew 9.8% to $5 million.

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To leverage that growth, Masterfoods will launch an estimated $6 million print effort this October, from Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, New York, that taps into people's relationship with chocolate, relationships it suggests can range from "torrid" to "forever," and offers that "for every relationship there is Dove."

The upscale, indulgent nature of the product has driven Masterfoods to reach out to a wide variety of magazines it has never before tapped for its mainstream confection advertising. Among them are epicurean titles such as Gourmet and Food & Wine as well as shelter magazines including Traditional Home, travel titles and even lifestyle weeklies.

The company will further tap into the various magazines' passionate connection with readers as a sponsor of magazine-led events where it will sample Dove Promises as part of its media buys, Mr. Mattia said. Masterfoods will also sample Dove at high-end hotels and spas as well as gourmet shows.

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