MARKETING MENU GROWS AT CINNABON UNDER AFC: CHAIN OF BUN BAKERIES LOOKS TO HEAT UP ITS BRAND

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Cinnabon International plans to use more than the aroma of cinnamon buns to lure customers as the chain positions itself for growth.

The 360-unit chain, acquired last year by AFC Enterprises, parent of Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits and Churchs Chicken, is slated to announce a franchise-expansion program this week.

"We have an 80% national awareness, but one of the issues we have is having enough locations," said Gregg Nettleton, VP-marketing and brand strategy.

GOING BEYOND P.O.P.

The move comes as Cinnabon for the first time plans brand-building efforts beyond point of purchase in its mall and airport locations. Mr. Nettleton said the chain will use events, and possibly print and radio ads, to get out its message. Glue Communications, Atlanta, recently was named to handle integrated-marketing activities.

"There are a number of activities we are going to do, out and away from the bakeries, to increase top-of-mind awareness as we go into the all-important holiday shopping season. We want to make sure our brand is top of mind," Mr. Nettleton said.

Cinnabon posted sales of $158 million last year, and same-store sales rose 6.7% for first-quarter 1999. Ad spending for the new efforts couldn't be determined; no media spending was recorded in 1998 by Competitive Media Reporting.

SEASONAL MARKETING

Cinnabon will increase its seasonal marketing, with a major push planned for the yearend holiday season. Also, a four-berry cinnamon bun was added for spring, and a new product is in the works for the fall, to carry a harvest theme.

Mr. Nettleton said the company's addition of Seattle's Best Coffee products in March -- AFC Enterprises acquired that brand last year, too -- has been a hit with customers.

The chain, which bakes its buns on site, has an advantage over other mall food purveyors, Mr. Nettleton said, because it benefits from being located near other

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