Creme Savers resumes ad campaign

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Nabisco's LifeSavers Co. hit an unusual snag shortly after introducing LifeSavers Creme Savers in January 1999: It couldn't fill retail orders fast enough.

The stories from frustrated retailers tell the tale of the marketer's delicious dilemma. "We were allocated 30 to 40 cases a month and, because [Creme Savers] flew off the shelf the minute we stocked them, I stockpiled eight months until I could build up inventory," said one Midwest retail executive.

The shortage caused the company to pull its advertising after only four weeks -- a move it's now rectifying by relaunching the original ads in June, supported by a budget billed as LifeSaver's heaviest for a single brand in its history.

NO. 2 IN HARD CANDY

Even without a sustained campaign, LifeSavers Creme Savers sales grew to $65 million since its introduction, according to Information Resources Inc., making it the No. 2 hard candy brand in the marketplace behind the base LifeSavers brand. That's because, instead of seeing a backlash from retailers or consumers unable to find the product, "Consumers are clamoring for Creme Savers and if they find some, they horde it," according to Michele Buck, VP-marketing for LifeSavers.

LifeSavers spent the last 18 months building capacity for the brand of highly popular fruit and cream candies, focusing on the Strawberry & Creme and Orange & Creme varieties and discontinuing the less-popular chocolate flavor. The company was even able to increase prices on the product to retailers despite the yearlong shortfall.

`A HUGE GROWTH AREA'

"This is one of those one-of-a-kind new product hits, one that is being viewed as a huge growth area from company executives, and as a result we've been given extra room in our budget to help drive the business," Ms. Buck said.

Ms. Buck won't discuss how much the unit is spending on the Creme Savers campaign. But Nabisco will likely multiply exponentially the $3.7 million expended in broadcast media during its initial four-week run, as measured by Competitive Media Reporting. The effort now will also include print as well as TV, all carrying the on-package theme, "The creamiest, dreamiest LifeSavers yet."

The campaign, from FCB Worldwide, New York, extends LifeSavers' "Celebration" advertising, and focuses on the luscious, delicious taste of Creme Savers. The ads feature shots of rich cream and fresh fruit in both 30-and 15-second executions. The new print features similarly alluring photographs of the Creme Saver ingredients.

SAMPLING, COUPONS

The creative will run during programming on broadcast and cable networks and in magazines such as People that appeal to women ages 18 to 49. Sampling at restaurants and in offices, as well as ads with coupons in Sunday newspapers, will attempt to build awareness of the brand among that core consumer group.

Nabisco spent a total of $25 million on its LifeSavers brand in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Overall, LifeSavers sales totaled $224 million for the 52 weeks ended March 26, according to IRI.

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