NEW BASKIN-ROBBINS ADS MODERNIZE CHAIN'S IMAGE: PINK SPOON IS CAST AS BRAND ICON IN 1ST WORK FROM DEUTSCH

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Baskin-Robbins USA has transformed its signature pink spoon into a wry character in a new TV campaign meant to update the ice cream chain's image.

The advertising is the first from Deutsch, Marina del Rey, Calif., which won the estimated $30 million account in November.

A pool of four 30-second commercials introduces a new tagline "Happiness served here," and uses a fast-food strategy of touting limited-time offers with value prices.

A :15 featuring the spoon watching TV also has been produced, and is designed to be re-narrated for various promotions.

$1.99 SUNDAES

The campaign breaks today, with two spots promoting an offer of two-scoop ice cream sundaes for $1.99. In one, an exhausted businessman rides a crowded New York subway, only to be shaken out of his daze by a voice saying, "Tough day, Jim?" The voice belongs to the plastic spoon sandwiched between passengers on the train.

For the important summer selling season, new spots will run touting other $1.99 offers. One features shakes, the other Cappuccino Blast, Baskin's version of Starbucks Coffee Co.'s popular -- and higher-priced -- Frappuccino drink.

Michael Sheldon, exec VP-general manager of Deutsch's Marina del Rey office, said the challenge with Baskin-Robbins was to reintroduce an established brand.

"With all the alternatives, the brand got off the radar a little bit," Mr. Sheldon said. "The idea was how do you reintroduce this brand that everybody already knows, how do you be a little more contemporary, a little more stylish, a little more relevant to people's lives today.

"We wanted to take a fundamental value of Baskin, which is happiness, and celebrate that there is nothing wrong with that," he added.

NO. 2 ICE CREAM CHAIN

The ice cream chain ranks second in the U.S. behind International Dairy Queen in the $5.2 billion segment of the $104 billion quick-service restaurant business, according to 1996 figures from restaurant consultancy Technomic Inc.

The new campaign comes in the wake of a reorganization of the company's marketing department, in which Carolyn O'Keefe joined the chain as VP-marketing (see item on Page 28).

The changes don't affect the new campaign, executives said.

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