FOOD MARKETERS STIR UP MEDIA MIX

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Food category titans are developing innovative tactics to help them break through to consumers beyond the realm of network TV.

The newly targeted approach to food marketing stems from a need to build relationships with consumers whose food dollars are being spread to categories as diverse as fast-food and pharmaceutical.

MOVE TO OUTDOOR, CABLE

Under the watch of Betsy Holden, Kraft Foods' exec VP of operations, technology, marketing services, e-business and procurements, the marketer has shifted its spending to more targeted media like outdoor and cable during the last year. Ms. Holden acts as an adviser to individual Kraft brand groups that control their own budgets.

"We're using a wider arsenal to reach our core consumers where they live," she says. As part of that effort, Kraft scaled back on the $50 million umbrella ad campaign it launched last September in favor of delivering consumers more tangible solutions: new convenience products such as Breakfast Lunchables and Stove Top Oven Classics; recipes on its Kraft Interactive Kitchens site (www.kraft.com); and PR efforts that push Kraft's easy meals for moms.

'GREAT IDEA'

General Mills also has shifted the 1998 campaign grouping its portfolio of products under the Betty Crocker banner to a focus on specific products -- getting the message across via print.

The new effort from DDB Worldwide, New York, is dubbed "What a great idea."

"We needed to get across the idea of how new products or new uses for established products are more relevant for today's hectic moms and to do that we needed more than 30 seconds," says Rick Hosfield, VP-advertising for General Mills.

In addition to the work for its Betty Crocker icon brand, General Mills has "significantly" increased its advertising investment against a slew of individual brands that fit under hot-button trends of health and convenience, among them Yoplait yogurt and whole grain cereals like Total, Cheerios and Wheaties, Mr. Hosfield says.

For those efforts, Mr. Hosfield has altered the media buying strategy, choosing to concentrate on what he calls quality over quantity.

"To break through in a cluttered environment, you have to be very relevant to consumers: I want advertising that's effective, instinctive and speaks both to the heart and mind of our consumers," says Mr. Hosfield.

LEANER STRATEGY

Campbell Soup Co. is trying to rival its bigger-budget competitors with a leaner ad strategy that includes a recent agency consolidation intended to "drive efficiencies and get the most out of our partners worldwide," says Maria Puoti, VP-global advertising services.

Part of driving efficiencies, Ms. Puoti says is Campbell's renewed efforts to manage its various soup brands as a portfolio. Like Kraft and General Mills, Campbell aims to leverage the total brand equity platform across the sub-brands.

"This year, we're making a conscious effort to build a story for a variety [of brands] and talk about how it fits into the whole umbrella," Ms. Puoti says. The new product-specific spots will go "beyond just TV to reach consumers at their point of need."

RADIO WORKS

Ms. Puoti recently discovered radio spots more effectively drive the positioning of the Campbell's Chunky Soup/National Football League tie-in to its male target and that consumers are turning to www.campbellsoup.com between 3 and 4 p.m. and spending at least 20 minutes on the site. These discoveries have prompted Campbell to "do as much as possible to get more eyeballs on our site," Ms. Puoti says.

As for Kellogg, innovative media use is crucial to driving consumers back to cereal for breakfast. Kellogg North America President John Cook stepped into the pressure-cooker after years of consulting at McKinsey & Co.

Mr. Cook is charged with putting his strategic planning expertise to work to grow sales for the flagship cereal brands and drive sales in convenience foods where the bulk of breakfast dollars are going.

INNOVATION IMPERATIVE

Innovation in advertising has been an imperative in the months since Mr. Cook took the helm in February.

Kellogg launched an edgy $30 million campaign in April against its Raisin Bran Crunch -- the sweeter version of the flagship brand aimed to bring 20-something men back into the fold.

Kellogg is not just relying on innovative creative ad strategies. It also is utilizing innovative media strategies and leaned heavily on targeted outdoor,

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