ConAgra's seasonal swing

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It's summer-time to slap a few turkeys on the grill and begin that bonding ritual in which suburban guys celebrate their passion for grilling with a little musical theater.

At least ConAgra Foods and Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, New York, hope so, as they launch a trio of tonguein-cheek TV ads as part ConAgra's broadest summertime effort ever, including its first ads during the season for its "whole bird" Butterball Turkey.

ConAgra Chairman-CEO Bruce Rohde has promised to get more aggressive both in new-product development and advertising. The effort delivers with TV campaigns not only for Butterball but also for Eckrich Sausage and a new heat-and-serve line of KC Masterpiece and Armour co-branded barbecue products.

A 30-second "Turkey Day" ad that broke last week combines a traditional home-and-hearth Thanksgiving voice-over with summer poolside and grilling scenes as ConAgra tries to push Butterball turkeys during a time when outdoor cooking is usually a beefier affair. The campaign aims to expand turkey consumption and build on a segment of consumers that's already grilling or deep-frying turkeys outdoors during the hotter months, said Ken Dowling, account director for Butterball at Grey.

In "Ode to Eckrich," which breaks in the Midwest June 11, a group of male grillers becomes a singing, dancing entourage in a paean to Eckrich brats and links. Later this month, ConAgra launches a 30-second spot nationally from Grey behind its KC Masterpiece line of heat-and-serve barbecue mixes. ConAgra's Armour Swift Eckrich unit has licensed the KC Masterpiece brand from Clorox Co. for the new line, backed by a TV ad that shows shots of attractive women, men and child actors, only to gradually reveal they've got barbecue residue on their mouths and chins.

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