KRAFT WHIPS UP $40 MIL IN ADS FOR NEW FOODS: LINE OF SALAD DRESSINGS CAPS LIST OF FIVE PRODUCT LAUNCHES FOR SPRING

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Kraft Foods is launching five new products across several categories this spring, introductions that could pump up its ad budget by an estimated $40 million or more.

The new lines are Kraft Special Collection salad dressing; Crystal Light Body Refreshers; Kool-Aid Slushies and Kool-Aid Splash; and two new extensions of Oscar Mayer Lunchables, Pizza Dunks and Pizza Swirls.

Kraft Special Collection, a six-item line, is part of a recovery plan in salad dressings -- one of only two of Kraft's top categories to lose share last year. The line contains upscale flavors such as Creamy Roasted Garlic, Greek Vinaigrette, Balsamic Vinaigrette and Creamy Cucumber Dill, and will receive a dedicated TV and print ad campaign beginning in May via Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

SALAD DRESSINGS SUFFER

Kraft's salad dressings sales, battered by the introduction of a new national line from Bestfoods last year, skidded 2.8% for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 1, according to Information Resources Inc., to $406.8 million. Its share stood at 35.2%.

"We're focused on dressings and want to make sure we're doing everything we can to protect our business, with things like Special Collection . . . to make sure at the end of the day Kraft leads the salad dressing business," said Kraft CEO Robert Eckert.

Kraft put the $40 million account in review last year, but kept it at Burnett. Still, Kraft continues to test a salad dressing campaign from Grey Advertising, New York, weeks after firing the agency on all creative assignments. In the agency reshuffling that ousted Grey, Kraft consolidated all its dressings, including Good Seasons, at Burnett.

`VOTE FOR BURNETT'

"It's a vote of confidence for Leo Burnett," Mr. Eckert said.

Print ads for Special Collection show the different varieties falling via parachute. "Throw caution to the wind," reads one execution. "They're new and different, but they're Kraft. So dive in." The ads continue the theme that helped Burnett hold onto the flagship dressing business: "Everybody's got a taste for Kraft."

`FUNCTIONAL FOODS'

Crystal Light Body Refreshers represents Kraft's first foray into what Mr. Eckert calls "functional foods," providing added vitamins or other healthy ingredients.

The three-item line of powder drinks, now shipping to retailers, comes in new-age style flavors such as strawberry-kiwi-tangerine and contains 20% of the recommended daily allowance of 10 vitamins and minerals.

A TV and print campaign from Y&R Advertising, New York, breaks in April.

Sales of the flagship Crystal Light brand fell 9.1% for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 1, IRI said, to $91.9 million, while its Tropical Passions sub-brand line fell 14.9% in sales to $37.1 million. Only Crystal Light Teas gained sales last year, up 1.8% to $10.9 million.

Kraft plans a Kool-Aid line of Slushies that parents can make by adding water and crushed ice, as well as a pre-mixed Kool-Aid in a squirt bottle called Splash. Mr. Eckert said 20% of the brand's volume last year came from new products.

Its newer lines, Kool-Aid Mega Mountain Twists and Kool-Aid Island Twists, together contributed $98 million in sales for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 1, according to IRI. Regular Kool-Aid sales dropped 13% to $212 million.

Kool-Aid's account moved in the recent shuffle to Ogilvy & Mather, which will handle a campaign for Splash. Slushies is unsupported.

LUNCHABLES ADDITIONS

Lunchables Pizza Dunks and Pizza Swirls are the two newest additions to that $500 million franchise. Pizza Dunks allow kids to dunk breadsticks into cheese sauce and pizza sauce. Swirls, billed as the first dessert pizzas, contain pizza crusts and packets of fudge frosting and M&M's. The line comes after the successful launch of Lunchables Pizza -- which Kraft now pegs as a $100 million business -- and last year's rollout of Taco Bell-branded Lunchables.

J. Walter Thompson USA, Chicago, is preparing TV and print ads for Pizza Dunks and Pizza Swirls, to break in May.

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