M&M/MARS, HERSHEY SWEETEN EASTER WITH NEW CANDY OFFERINGS: SEASONAL LINES CAPITALIZE ON GROWING SALES DURING HOLIDAYS

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The candy giants are loading their Easter baskets with new products and advertising as seasonal sales continue to grow.

M&M/Mars' M&M's characters will star in a 30-second, Easter-themed M&M's TV spot breaking March 10, as well as in a four-page insert in April issues of entertainment and women's service books. Expanding their role, the characters will support Mars' entire line of new Easter confections, not just M&M's.

NEW GOODIES

The new products include Snickers' Eggs; M&M's Basket Treats, a large hollow milk chocolate M&M with candies inside; and M&M's Easter "vehicles" featuring bunny ears and miniature boxes of the candies. Existing Easter lines supported in the print ad include Starburst Jellybeans, Dove Promises and pastel M&Ms.

Although the TV spot, called "Basket," isn't finished, the print execution from BBDO Worldwide, New York, takes the wry tone of recent M&M's advertising. The last page of the insert shows the backs of the Red and Yellow M&M's walking away (and bearing cottontails), with the tagline, "We got your Easter right here." Below are the words: "No rabbits or chicks were harmed in the making of this advertisement."

HERSHEY OFFERINGS

At rival Hershey Foods Corp., M&M-style candies called Pastel Hersheyettes are also being marketed for Easter along with new lines Hershey's Cookies 'n' Mint Eggs, Cookies 'n' Cream Easter Baskets and 6-ounce Cookies 'n' Cream Easter Bunnies.

TV advertising will run, via Ogilvy & Mather, New York, for Hershey's Easter Kisses showing the pastel kisses nesting, and the long-running Cadbury Creme Egg spot showing an Easter bunny clucking like a hen will also air this month.

HERSHEY FSI WITH CRAYOLA

Hershey wouldn't discuss spending, but trade materials promise 120 million impressions from the TV advertising. A joint free-standing insert with Binney & Smith's Crayola crayons drops March 2 with 52 million distribution.

According to Hershey, Easter candy sales last year hit $448.2 million, up 4.4%, even though the Easter candy selling period was nine days shorter than in '95.

That increase isn't an anomaly as sales of holiday-themed foods products explode.

BLUE OREOS

Tapping this trend, Nabisco Biscuit Co. is introducing a blue pastel cream Spring Oreo to expand its portfolio of holiday Oreos beyond Christmas and Halloween.

And Kraft Foods is trying to expand Easter sales of a non-traditional food-Jell-

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