Keebler elves are busy, while other marketers help with home cookin'

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Grocery shelves already are starting to groan from special holiday-packaged foods. But the promotional bounty will be more in-store displays and promotion than media advertising.

An exception to that will be Keebler Co., which is adding a new twist on a promotion called the "Great Holiday Giveaway" by featuring for the first time the names of retailers in its TV commercials.

Backing virtually all Keebler's cracker brands, the promotion will be flagged on 25 million packages and offers an instant-win top prize of $100,000. A TV spot from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, featuring the Keebler elves decorating packages in the hollow tree breaks this week.

CUSTOMIZING

"We are customizing [the spot] in 40 markets that the media [buy] covers, about 60 different [retail] accounts," said Mike Jurgensen, director of planning and promotion.

Keebler is offering retailers Ernie the Elf Santa dolls for store displays or local premium giveaways, and Cheez-It/Radio Flyer wagons.

About 180 million coupons will be distributed, with the next drop scheduled for Dec. 6. A total of 50,000 prizes will be offered.

Additionally, Keebler is adding holiday-theme holographic packaging to its six annual limited-time cookie lines--Almond Crescents, Holiday Jingles, Gingerbread Elves, E.L. Fudge, Holiday Deluxe Grahams and Rainbow Holiday Chips Deluxe.

Because of home baking during the holidays, Christmas "is the weakest time of the year" for packaged cookie sales, said Roger Kalinowski, VP-marketing at Keebler, "which is why participating [via promotions] is so important to us."

Home baking is good news for marketers of other products, of course, including Hershey Foods Corp.

HERSHEY FOR BAKING

Hershey is running print ads in women's service magazines--themed "Bake a little holiday magic"--to pitch Reese's Peanut Butter Chips, Hershey's Mini Kisses and Hershey's Cocoa.

General Mills, too, is hoping to turn packaged-cookie buyers into bakers with easy-to-use Holiday Baking Kits for its Betty Crocker brand.

The cupcake kit features a pouch for the cake mix, frosting, holiday candy sprinkles and cupcake liners; the cookie kit has sugar cookie mix, white and green vanilla frosting, holiday cookie cutters and sprinkles.

No advertising is planned.

Nabisco Biscuit Co.'s limited-time holiday cookie line will be extended this season from last year's Oreos with red cream filling, white chocolate-covered Oreos and holiday tin-packaged Oreos.

The new products include new Holiday Ritz--crackers shaped like snowflakes--Jingle Jangle Toastettes and the reintroduction for the holidays of the American Classics brand crackers.

RITZ SNACK MIX RETURNS

Ritz Snack Mix also will be brought back in traditional and cheddar flavors.

A free-standing newspaper insert will appear Dec. 13 for Holiday Ritz, American Classics, Wheat Thins and Potato Air Crisps. Actmedia shopping-cart ads will be used, as well as in-store displays featuring holiday entertaining ideas.

With snack mix becoming a holiday standard, Kellogg Co. is offering a do-it-yourself Party Pack that includes a box of Rice Krispies and Crispix along with a coupon for a free bag of marshmallows. In a tie-in, money off the purchase of Bestfoods' Skippy peanut butter will be included.

Snap, Crackle and Pop also are going red, white and green, with the introduction of Holiday Rice Krispies.

Another toaster pastry is getting a holiday lift as well, Pillsbury Co.'s Toaster Strudel. It gains a Holiday Cherry extension with green icing that children can use to decorate the product themselves.

In the promotional arena, Pillsbury's Haagen-Dazs brand is offering on its Web site and through an 800 phone line three gift certificates for its ice cream for $10.

Candy sales peak at Christmas, and M&M/Mars is trying to push its holiday mini-candies with print advertising in December consumer magazines. The spread ad, from BBDO Worldwide, New York, features kids from the "mini family" watching their family get ready for a holiday party by carrying a huge bowl of candy.

It's not known if TV will be used. The company usually runs TV spots for M&M's for the holidays, but executives couldn't be reached at press time.

NEW KRAFT CEREALS

Kraft Foods this season offers two cereals--Post Bedrock Blizzard Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles, and will bring back its "Charlie Brown Christmas" Macaroni & Cheese Dinner in character shapes. It's other major offering is Stove Top Stuffing in a special cranberry flavor

Kraft also is planning a holiday-theme promotion it wouldn't disclose at press time.

Copyright November 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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