GRANOLA BARS CAN KEEP KIDS QUIET: QUAKER HUMOROUS ADS BACK NEW ENTRY IN GROWING LINE, GRAHAM SLAM

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An angelic child tugs on the pristine hem of a bride's formal gown. "My mom said she can't believe you wore white," he says, in an earnestly convincing tone.

Unlikely as it sounds, the TV spot described above is for a granola bar, one of two in Quaker Oats Co.'s campaign to introduce Chewy Graham Slam.

The effort, which breaks on network TV today, playfully pitches the product as a way to keep kids, who are prone to say embarrassing, outrageous-and honest-things, from talking. The theme line: "Chewy stops the chatter."

GRABBING ATTENTION

"We wanted to convey personality, grab attention and have some talk value," said Brand Manager Greg Watson, noting the strategy is "grounded in consumer insight" after extensive research with moms, the snack gatekeepers.

Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, created the commercials, which include such other gems as "My little brother was an accident," "My dad lost his paycheck at the racetrack" and "The neighbors are hillbillies."

Although some of these lines might have a familiar if mortifying ring to parents, the agency said they were all scripted rather than ad-libbed. The spots feature as background music the '60s song "Chewy, Chewy" originally done by Ohio Express.

Print ads begin running in women's and parenting magazines' May issues. They don't show kids; instead, the lines are in a font resembling typewriter type partially obscured by an unopened package of Graham Slam.

"Mom, why does grandma smell like mothballs?" reads one. "Uncle Billy, dad says to tell you he's not home," reads another.

The campaign is a departure from last year, although both efforts share humor and a tongue-in-cheek tone.

"Simply put, in the past we've had commercials that were more warm and fuzzy," Mr. Watson said. "This has more of an edge."

The earlier effort appeared to have been working, however. According to Quaker's most recent annual report, its Chewy Granola line led the $310 million category with a 39% share and the brand posted 9% volume growth in 1998.

MORE COMPETITION

That's despite heightened competition from rivals such as Kellogg Co., which has introduced new varieties of its Nutri-Grain line, including Nutri-Grain Twists, and additional flavors of its Rice Krispies Treats.

Graham Slam itself is a new line, and follows last year's launch of a synergistic product for Quaker, its Fruit & Oatmeal Bar line.

Quaker didn't specify what it's spending on the new effort, but it spent $5.4 million on measured media support for Chewy Granola and another $8.8 million on Fruit & Oatmeal during the first nine months of 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Everything hasn't been rosy for the category leader. Quaker has discontinued its Cap'n Crunch-branded snack bars, introduced last year, because it didn't meet

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