Dannon triples yogurt spending to $12 million

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In a race to reach kids, Dannon Co. will nearly triple ad spending this year for its Danimals yogurt line to an estimated $12 million -- more than half of which will go toward the national launch of portable Danimals Drinkables.

"It's a top priority for us to build the kids category," said Fredericka de Saint Perier, Dannon marketing director.

General Mills upped the ante in the kids yogurt segment late last year with the introduction of its portable Yoplait Go-Gurt, which rolled national with an $11 million advertising blitz after successful results in limited parts of the country. Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, handled.

Go-Gurt has quickly grown to an astounding $70 million in sales based largely on packaging innovation that made it fun and portable for kids. Dannon hopes to see similar success for its own portable bottles of new Danimals Drinkables.

NATIONAL ROLLOUT

Drinkables tested extremely well in Florida and Detroit test markets last year, said Ms. de Saint Perier, helping to double Danimals' total brand market share and make it the No. 1 brand of kids yogurt in the two markets. As a result, the line currently is rolling national and should have full distribution by May 1.

A print campaign for Drinkables, from Y&R Advertising, New York, breaks in June issues of magazines including Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's Parents, and Hearst Magazines' Good Housekeeping and the new O, The Oprah Magazine, reassuring moms that question the taste of drinkable yogurt that kids will love it with the tagline "Taste Buds Rule."

TV efforts reaching out directly to kids 3 to 8 started March 25 on kids cable programming, such as Nickelodeon, touting Drinkables as "Fruity, fun and fast." The spots feature the Danimals characters introduced last year, including Gorilla and Polar Bear, helping a young boy solve the problem of what to have for a snack on his way to baseball practice by giving him a Drinkables.

Bottles of Drinkables are hour-glass-shaped to fit into small hands and each features a different Danimals character. Flavors include Cherry Cool and Rockin' Raspberry.

STRONGER NO. 1

General Mills leads the refrigerated yogurt category with overall sales up 22% to $629 million for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 30, while Dannon is No. 2, with sales down 4.3% to $537 million, according to Information Resources Inc. Sales of Danimals rose 13% to $38 million, while General Mills' Yoplait Trix brand grew 26% to $76 million for the same time period.

Dannon spent $4 million in media against its Danimals brand in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

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