AURORA FOODS TO BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO SMALL BRANDS: LOG CABIN, MRS. BUTTERWORTH'S GET NEW AD EFFORTS

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Log Cabin and Mrs. Butterworth's syrups are about to get new life.

The brands, cast off by Kraft Foods and Unilever, respectively, were picked up by Aurora Foods, a company formed specifically to rejuvenate distressed brands.

So far, Aurora's brand portfolio consists solely of the two pancake syrups, which will receive their first significant advertising in years-beginning today for Log Cabin and in early November for Mrs. Butterworth's.

'TREMENDOUS EQUITY'

"Both have tremendous consumer equity, but the parent companies lost interest in marketing them," said Gary Willett, exec VP of Columbus, Ohio-based Aurora. Kraft and Unilever "had put junior-level people on the brands, did mainly trade advertising and, over time, consumers forgot about them."

With its two syrup purchases, Aurora becomes No. 1 in the $446.6 million category, according to Information Resources Inc. For the 52 weeks ended Sept. 14, the combined Log Cabin and Mrs. Butterworth's brands held a 35.3% share. No. 2 Aunt Jemima, from Quaker Oats Co., has a 19.3% share.

Aurora is a $200 million company with about 30 executives culled mainly from big package-goods marketers, including Kraft, Borden and Procter & Gamble Co.

"Our financial bankers understand that to create value you have to grow the top line with strong marketing," Mr. Willett said.

$5 MIL FOR LOG CABIN

In the case of Log Cabin, that will be an estimated $5 million spot TV campaign from Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, themed "In the heart of every home, there's a little Log Cabin."

Mr. Willett said O&M was chosen in July for the business because it had already developed the strategy and campaign for Kraft, although the previous owner hadn't elected to run it.

He said the brand hadn't been strongly supported on the national level for at least five years.

The strategy for Log Cabin is to point out the heritage of the 110-year-old brand, and new TV spots show families gathered around the table while the voice-over reminds mom it's the same brand her mother and grandmother served.

FAMILY FUN & BUTTERWORTH'S

Aurora's strategy for Mrs. Butterworth's will be a bit different. Research showed the brand has a more modern image, and creative for the TV effort breaking next month will focus on "a family fun approach that retains the equity of the talking bottle," said Mr. Willett.

Sive/ Y&R, Cincinnati, has been assigned Mrs. Butterworth's, which was at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, while it was owned by Unilever.

"We wanted a small agency and they still have the purchasing clout of Y&R," Mr. Willett said.

Although starting small, Aurora has big ambitions. The company plans to grow to $500 million in sales within two or three years, he said, by acquiring another five to seven brands with equity in dry grocery.

There are a number of such brands on the sale block, including P&G's Duncan Hines cake mixes and Dow Chemical Co.'s Dow brand consumer products.

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