THE MARKETING 100;MAXWELL HOUSE MIKE POLK

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It was a nail-biting '95 for Mike Polk, category business director for Kraft Foods' Maxwell House coffee, as he set out to break a trade-spending addiction. The plan: Cut coffee trade spending by $40 million, pouring it back into consumer advertising.

"There was a lot of trepidation," recalls Mr. Polk, 35, now category business director for powdered soft drinks at the company. "We expected to pay a volume and share penalty."

But Maxwell House didn't. Instead, year-end market share rose to 28.5% share, up 1.7 points, according to Nielsen figures cited by the company, while Procter & Gamble Co.'s Folgers remained flat.

The reason why share jumped, Mr. Polk believes, is the advertising. The company hiked measured media expenditures from $4.8 million during 1994 for its regular ground coffee to $31.9 million in '95, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Moreover, Maxwell House reintroduced its perking-pot sound and famous "Good to the last drop" tagline.

The campaign, from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, interspersed the perking with family scenes in comforting black-and-white '50s style images.

That "brought the theme to life in a more contemporary way," says Mr. Polk. "We're the only coffee company that can say we're good to the last drop. It transcends time."

The company also revisited its media strategy, heavying up on outdoor and radio buys. "Talk about a trifecta '95," says Mr. Polk. "We were up in volume, share and earnings."

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