Bartle Bogle ads deliver real thing for Sizzle & Stir

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No music, no voice-overs, no smiling family sitting down to a picture-perfect meal. Could this be TV advertising for packaged food?

In its first work for Unilever's Lipton unit, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, has created a launch campaign for the new Sizzle & Stir meal kits that is, like the tagline says, "Surprisingly real."

Finding that the Lipton brand, long associated with tea and soup, was considered more substantial and "real" than some of its convenience-food counterparts, the agency decided to capture the new Sizzle & Stir brand (AA, Dec. 6) in a natural context, said Ty Montague, creative director at Bartle Bogle.

REAL, CONTEMPORARY LIFE

"The world has moved on since the 1950s, but you wouldn't know it from watching food advertising," Mr. Montague said. "We wanted to portray real, contemporary life and the reality of the people's kitchens with absolutely no artifice"

In the initial two TV spots that break this week targeted to homemakers looking for a quick but satisfying meal, one can actually hear Sizzle & Stir sizzle. In "Fork," a teen-ager stands at the stove stirring a meal. The frame freezes and words appear across the screen: "Real teen-ager. Would rather be someplace else." The spot then shifts to the kitchen counter where a box of Lipton Sizzle & Stir sits alongside fresh meat and vegetables. The frame freezes again and the words "Real meal. Just sizzle and stir" appear.

As the teen carries the dinner plates to the table, he drops a fork and wipes it across his shirt before placing it next to his mom's plate. His mother looks at him wryly as they sit down for dinner and the words flash across the frozen frame: "Real mom. Knows about the fork." As the spot ends, the screen reads, "Lipton Sizzle & Stir. Surprisingly real."

In "Internet," a grandmother similarly whips up a Sizzle & Stir meal while her grandson plays on the Internet. The mother ("Real mom. Glad to have grandma around.") comments that there is some weird stuff on the Internet, and the screen freezes to reveal that the grandmother's log-in name is Missy Vixen.

BEING DIFFERENT

"We don't tell consumers how to feel about the product, instead allowing people to draw their own conclusions," Mr. Montague said. Lipton "believes that being different is the way to be effective."

The campaign will likely expand to include similar print ads.

Lipton is trying to stand out in the crowded dry dinner mixes category, which grew 14% in dollar sales in 1999, according to Information Resources Inc.

Among the top competitors in that shelf-stable arena are General Mills, with its Chicken Helper line, and Kraft Foods' Stove Top Oven Classics. But Lipton also faces competition from players such as Nestle USA, which are innovating with frozen all-in-one meal kits.

Lipton spent a mere $3 million in measured media on its soup and side dish brands in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

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