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Heinz rolls out new Hot Bites

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H.J. Heinz Co. will back its new line of Ore-Ida Hot Bites frozen snacks with a marketing campaign it hopes will be "X"-tremely successful at luring tweens.

In an effort to further its stake in the fast-growing $560 million frozen-snack category, Heinz will feature X-Games champion Tony Hawk in a $6 million TV campaign this August. The effort, which will be accompanied by newspaper inserts and sampling in conjunction with the ESPN event, will likely bill the products as "The X-Treme Snack." Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, San Francisco, handles.

Sales of Ore-Ida Bagel Bites snacks grew 20% to $100 million for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 25, according to Information Resources Inc. Now, the marketer hopes to reach out beyond frozen snacks' typical mom and adult targets to attract kids 14-to-18 to the franchise. The Hot Bites name, used by Heinz in the mid '90s, is being resurrected in a bid to appeal to this younger audience. The line hits stores in May.

Aside from two varieties that take advantage of Ore-Ida's potato heritage-the Ore-Ida Oven Chip with a nacho cheese sauce and a Tater Dog-the majority of the Hot Bites will carry an Italian theme. The line will feature three Little Calzones; four Miniature Deep Dish Pizzas and four "Blasts"-round bite-sized bagels stuffed with pizza toppings.

The Italian focus is no accident. More than half of the sales for competitor Pillsbury Co.'s leading frozen snack brand, Totino's, come from its pizza rolls.

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