Back to school big-time

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Kraft Foods, in one of the first major marketing moves since its June initial public offering, will embark on its largest-ever back-to-school promotion by combining efforts for its kid-targeted brands with those of newly acquired Nabisco.

The back-to-school push, which will tout a Nickelodeon sweepstakes and a game with cash prizes on more than 120 million packages, promises to deliver the synergies and scale Philip Morris Cos. banked on when it shelled out $18.9 billion for Nabisco Holdings back in December.

"Kraft has a tradition of doing great marketing to kids and now with the power and leverage of Nabisco brands they're continuing in that tradition," said Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Dave Nelson.

Kraft for the first time has created joint advertising to tout its back-to-school effort as opposed to creating individual ads for each of the roughly 25 participating brands. The cohesive look of the supporting TV and print campaign is intended to "maximize [the promotion's] impact in the marketplace," said Lisa Coker, director of kids' marketing at Kraft. In 15-second tags that break July 23, Kraft highlights various "anchor" brands: Nabisco, Post kids' cereals and Kraft Mac & Cheese.

While Kraft has partnered around back-to-school with Viacom's Nickelodeon for six years, the addition of Nabisco nearly doubles the number of kid-targeted brands involved and offers a crucial in-store component with the inclusion of Nabisco's long-successful "Cool School Bus" display at retail.

With the help of a direct-store delivery system used for its cookies and crackers, Nabisco has for a number of years set up a 15-foot school bus at roughly 20,000 retailers featuring kid-targeted brands such as Oreo and Ritz Bits. This year, Kraft will use the bus for Nabisco brands and add to it a school locker featuring Kraft icons such as Kraft Mac & Cheese and Post Honeycomb cereal. Displays will tout chances for kids to get Nickelodeon's "Slime Time Live" taped at their school and to instantly win cash prizes.

Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote Cone & Belding, New York, earlier this year was awarded advertising responsibility for Kraft's roughly three large-scale kids' promotions annually. The agency has handled advertising for Nabisco's annual kids' promotions, and Nabisco cookies.

"When Kraft bought Nabisco, they looked through the reels and saw that we had already created great advertising that really appealed to kids," said Hal A. Fass, FCB senior VP-group management director. WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Chicago, handles Nabisco cracker brands. When Kraft in December consolidated its media at Bcom3 Group's Starcom MediaVest Group and its creative assignments among JWT, FCB and WPP's Ogilvy & Mather, it stated the realignment did not include Nabisco brands.

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