GEN'L MILLS SETS $20 MIL AD PUSH FOR CEREAL LAUNCH: EXTENSION OF GRAHAMS BRAND TARGETS FAMILIES

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Buoyed by a successful market test, General Mills is rolling out nationally new Cinnamon Grahams cereal, supported with a $16 million to $20 million advertising budget.

The extension of its Golden Grahams brand is aimed at all-family consumption and represents the second new item in the line, following Golden Grahams Treats, a snack bar introduced in November.

TV advertising from Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis, will begin this summer. The agency confirmed it was handling a Golden Grahams line extension but declined to provide its name.

Cinnamon Grahams follows Big G's strategy of introducing flavor extensions of existing brands. Frosted Cheerios, for example, was the bright spot in its lineup last year, with $103.9 million in sales for the 52 weeks ended March 23, according to Information Resources Inc. That compares to $289.9 million for regular Cheerios, down 1.1% during the same period.

HOPING FOR TURNAROUND

General Mills is hoping the new entry will help boost Golden Grahams, whose sales of $87.5 million were down 13.7% through March.

Overall, Big G's share of the $7.3 billion ready-to-eat cereal market was 27.9%, inching up closer to market leader Kellogg Co.'s 33.3%. While General Mills' cereal sales were down 3.5% to $2 billion, Kellogg's fell more precipitously, to $2.4 billion, down 15.2%, IRI said.

Flavor extensions are becoming increasingly popular in the industry. Kellogg introduced Cocoa Frosted Flakes and Honey Crunch Corn Flakes last year.

Big G has been one of the most active in the past year, churning out Betty Crocker's baked cereals, French Toast Crunch, Team Cheerios and Jurassic Park Crunch.

Contributing: Mercedes M. Cardona.

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