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GOLDFISH HOOKS KAREEM TO HELP PUSH SNACK BRAND;PEPPERIDGE FARM REVAMPS KEY PRODUCTS, HIKES BUDGET

By Published on .

Goldfish crackers, after getting its first-ever national ad campaign and new packaging, is getting a promotional tie-in with basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The brand is seeing strong sales gains as Pepperidge Farm works to reinvigorate its efforts in the marketplace, hiking its overall marketing budget by 25% in the past year.

MARKETING SHIFT

The changes have been under way at the unit of Campbell Soup Co. for about year. In November 1995, Pepperidge Farm moved Geralyn Breig to VP-biscuit marketing, replacing the departing Harlan Kent.

At the same time, the company moved its $10 million account to Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York, from longtime agency Ogilvy & Mather.

In January, Pepperidge Farm created the new post of VP-marketing and moved Pat Callaghan to the job, from VP-bakery.

The strategy is to reinvigorate the overall Pepperidge Farm brand, moving away from the traditional, indulgent and rather sleepy image that previous advertising and promotion had fostered.

"Goldfish advertising used to show [Pepperidge Farm spokes-man] Charlie Welch in a rowboat on Golden Pond popping goldfish one at a time," a company spokeswoman said. "These aren't precious little snacks."

KID RELEVANCE

The new idea was to imbue Goldfish with an energy and make it more relevant to kids. The first brand-specific advertising kicked off in September.

The 30-second spot shows children singing, "I love fishes 'cause they're so delicious," and talks about how the brand is baked, not fried, and flavored with cheese, not sugar.

The theme line: "The snack it's OK to get hooked on."

Earlier this year, Pepperidge Farm put out a quart-size milk-carton-style package for Goldfish with neon graphics. Now, it's following up with a 15-ounce family-size box.

LIFE-SIZE CUTOUTS

The tie-in with Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is meant to emphasize the package's large size. He will appear on packaging, in a free-standing insert running in Nov. 10 newspapers and on life-size indoor cut-outs in supermarkets.

Pepperidge Farm already considers its strategy a success. Goldfish delivered a 25% hike in sales through its fiscal year ended July 31.

Information Resources Inc. reports Goldfish sales at $97.3 million, up 24.6%, for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 11, giving the brand 3.7% of the $2.6 billion cracker category. That makes Goldfish No. 7 in the category, led by Nabisco Foods' Ritz with a 9.6% share.

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