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CARVEL, BASKIN-ROBBINS SCOOP UP NEW CAMPAIGNS;$12 MIL IN ADS WILL BE USED TO TOUT RIVALS' ICE CREAM CAKES

By Published on .

Ice cream retailers Carvel Corp. and Baskin-Robbins are trying to extend their strengths beyond the summer season with $12 million in advertising to back new products.

Carvel is rolling out Piece of Cake, believed to be the first single-serving ice cream cake, into supermarkets nationwide this month with a chocolate-vanilla flavor.

POLITICAL THEME

The product will get tongue-in-cheek ads with a political theme by August as part of Carvel's $6 million spot TV campaign in up to 30 markets, via DeVito/Verdi, New York. Previous commercials in the campaign have promoted holiday cakes around Valentine's Day, Easter and Mother's Day.

"Ice cream cakes are not a top-of-mind choice for dessert, and birthdays aren't an everyday occurrence," said Tom Fuchs, Carvel VP-marketing. "We wanted something for the consumer to be able to sample us."

Rival Baskin-Robbins, continuing an effort that began earlier this year to invigorate its brand, will put a $5 million to $6 million network and spot TV campaign behind its new ice cream cake designs for office parties and other occasions.

ADDITIONAL SPENDING

That spending is in addition to the $7 million to $10 million outlay for Baskin-Robbins' Cappuccino Blast beverage line and a new retail program.

The new campaign from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles unit Highway One, Los Angeles, begins Aug. 5 and runs through early September, and also includes radio and free-standing inserts.

Baskin-Robbins this year began a yearlong test of a number of its novelties in 800 southern California and Las Vegas supermarkets.

JOINING THE COMPETITION

"We view grocery stores as one of our fiercest competitors," said Michael Keller, VP-marketing. "But we're never going to beat them. This is a creative way to join them and benefit our franchisees."

Packaging for the novelties, including Sundae Bars, Paradise Blast Bars, Tiny Toons and Cappuccino Blast Bars, will have a coupon good at Baskin-Robbins franchise units.

"It's easy to sell novelties in the summer, but you need to maintain your shelf position the rest of the year," Mr. Keller said.

SEARCHING FOR GROWTH

Searching for new growth strategies beyond its 3,500 retail shops, Carvel began moving into supermarkets three years ago and has since expanded to 3,000 stores from Miami to Boston and southern California, offering branded freezer units to showcase its products.

Grocery sales made up one-third of the company's $212 million in 1995 sales, said Carvel President Steven Fellingham.

"Carvel retail shops were in a decline since 1993," Mr. Fellingham said. "We looked for causal factors and identified convenience, so we expanded distribution."

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