Hormel's mini meats

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Hormel Foods continues to remake itself as a branded package-goods marketer, this month taking a cue from Kraft Foods' successful Lunchables line to launch its own cracker-sized meats and cheeses for adult snacking.

The new line, dubbed Hormel Cracker Add-Ons, signifies the enormous shift the marketer has made from unbranded meats to convenience-driven premium products backed with marketing spending.

"We have a pretty good roadmap of where we want to take the Hormel brand, and part of that is offering contemporary, convenient, flavorful and on-trend products," said Joe Swedberg, VP-marketing for Hormel's refrigerated foods group. "If you take a look at the lunch meat section of the [meat] case, the only real new news, except for changing packaging, has been the Lunchables brand, but nobody within the section is taking advantage of the snacking trend among adults."

The 16 new items, individual packages of sliced ham, turkey, dry sausage and cheese, will be supported with print, TV and promotions beginning in November. The launch effort fits into Hormel's ongoing umbrella campaign, "Today's Flavor," which associates the brand with everyday things. An ad from Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, Minneapolis, asserts that "Wednesdays are days for puddles ... laughs ... and new Hormel Cracker Add-Ons ... great on crackers, great on the go."

"Hormel has done as well or better than anyone in the meat industry in terms of new-product innovation and marketing," said Dave Nelson, Credit Suisse First Boston analyst. "They've done a fantastic job branding and getting a premium price for products a lot of people would consider commodities."

The "Today's Flavor" campaign, first launched in April to reach out to younger consumers, has enabled Hormel to secure much-desired upfront positioning for its multiple-page spreads touting Hormel meat products such as pepperoni and Always Tender flavored pork in trendy magazines such as Time Inc.'s People and In Style.

"Not being the world's largest advertiser, it is unusual for us to get the upfront positioning [we received] for summer books as well as with new fall ads and December holiday issues, but [media outlets] like the contemporary style of the creative," Mr. Swedberg said.

As a result of the success, Mr. Swedberg said the budget for the campaign will grow substantially next year as Hormel and BBDO "refine and expand it." Hormel said it would spend $30 million on the "Today's Flavor" effort in 2001. In 2000, Hormel spent $50 million in measured media for all its products, and $29.7 million of that on its branded meat products, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

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