Grey Poupon rolls out yellow mustard variety

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Yellow Grey Poupon? But of course.

Under new parent Kraft Foods, Nabisco in January will extend its premium Grey Poupon franchise into the fastest-growing mustard segment. To tout new Grey Poupon Premium Yellow Mustard, the brand returns to TV in May after a nearly three-year hiatus with ads that reprise the famous "Pardon Me?" campaign.

The launch is intended to reach Grey Poupon's premium-seeking "creative cook" target, typically consumers over 35 with household incomes of $55,000 or higher who use yellow mustard more than any other mustard flavor in cooking. The new variety also seeks to lend Grey Poupon's upscale image to yellow mustards, which have typically targeted more mainstream consumers.

The segment has been dominated by Reckitt & Colman's middle-tier French's Yellow mustard brand and by private-label offerings. Yellow mustard makes up 45% of the $300 million mustard category and grew 3% in 1999, according to Nabisco sales materials.

While French's is priced in the $1.49 range and private label can go for as little as 99 cents, the new Grey Poupon Premium Yellow Mustard will carry the same $2.59 to $2.99 price tag of its sibling 10 oz. squeeze-bottle varieties, Dijon, Deli and Honey Mustard.

Nabisco had intimated that it would return to TV for Grey Poupon in 2001, likely with a twist on the long-running Rolls Royce effort (AA, July 24, 2000). The Rolls Royce campaign, created by Lowe & Partners, New York, has not been used on-air since 1997. Even so, the campaign has awareness levels of almost 70%, and 63% of consumers polled claim they've seen the TV spots in the last few months, according to the Nabisco materials.

Nabisco last used TV commercials featuring the Rolls Royce for the launch of its new squeeze packaging. "Whenever the brand has news, the `Pardon Me?' campaign seems to be very effective," said an executive close to the company.

The new executions, which will run during May and June, humorously tout the thicker, richer new Premium Yellow Mustard, although creative details have yet to be decided. Newspaper inserts will promote the new variety in January, March, May and June. Grey Poupon advertising is handled by FCB Worldwide, New York.

The 2001 budget for Grey Poupon is expected to return to the levels of the mid-'90s, when Nabisco spent nearly $10 million in measured media for the brand. In 1999, Grey Poupon received only $5 million in measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Philip Morris Cos. completed its $18.9 billion takeover of Nabisco Holdings Corp. last week. Grey Poupon will become part of the Enhancers Division of Philip Morris' Kraft Foods unit, along with Nabisco's A1 sauces. Industry observers expect the food giant to put more muscle against the brands it has acquired.

French's leads the mustard category with a 31% share and sales of $93 million for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 5, according to Information Resources Inc., flat compared to the year before. Private-label brands rank second with an 18.2% share and sales of $55 million, while Grey Poupon holds a 15% share and $44 million in sales, up less than 1%.

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