Men misbehave for love of Lipton in print ad effort

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Men behaving badly might be typical fodder for a TV sitcom, but it's not the usual fare Lipton tackles in its female-targeted food advertising-until now.

As part of a renewed effort by the Unilever unit to reconnect with modern consumers, Lipton is launching a campaign for its Recipe Secrets line next month. The offbeat ads play up the great taste of the famous Onion Soup dip recipe by showing the extreme measures men will take to enjoy it.

The estimated $8 million effort, from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, reflects a departure from the previous "Results guaranteed" campaign for Recipe Secrets. That effort featured different recipes for the line of soup mixes to exemplify the infallibility of cooking with the products. The new campaign focuses solely on touting the Onion Soup variety's dip recipe-although no recipe appears in the ads.

`EVERYBODY REMEMBERS THE DIP'

The reason for that, according to Alicia Rockmore, director of marketing for Lipton Meal Makers, is that the Onion Soup variety accounts for 75% of Lipton's $68 million Recipe Secrets business. Nearly 40% of the consumption of that mix is for dip.

"Everybody remembers the dip from when they were growing up, but we needed to remind people that it tastes great and that people love to eat it," she said.

To do that, a print campaign plays off consumer insight that female buyers of the Onion Soup product get tremendous satisfaction from their husbands' zestful enjoyment of the dip-even when it causes them to behave badly. The four executions carry only a picture of the package and the headline "Lipton Onion Dip" along with a photo depicting bad behavior.

EDGIER APPROACH

In one, a man steals a carrot from the nose of a snowman to use for the dip. In another, he stands in a communion line with a bowl of dip intending to dip the wafer. In yet another, he steals a pacifier from a crying baby to scoop up the dip.

"Snowman" and "Baby" will break in January issues of such women's magazines as Better Homes & Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, O, The Oprah Magazine, Self and People. The whole raft of ads will run from April through the summer "dipping" season and again during the 2001 holidays.

The campaign, much like Lipton's quiet TV ads for its Sizzle & Stir meal kits last April, strays from the typical approach to food advertising and from the more conservative tack Lipton itself has taken previously.

"As we move forward, we need to put a new face on Lipton and do a much better job of making sure our message is relevant and that it breaks through the clutter so consumers really listen," Ms. Rockmore said.

Bartle Bogle, which also created the Sizzle & Stir work, believes "if you make the consumer connect the dots they'll internalize the message better," said Bruce Winterton, account director at the agency. "The single visual tells a story and suggests extreme user enjoyment, exaggerated to prove the point."

The more noticeable Lipton ads will likely become prevalent in coming months as the Unilever unit reinvigorates marketing efforts for its $400 million Lipton-branded culinary business, which includes Recipe Secrets, Soup Secrets, Cup A Soup, Sizzle & Stir and Lipton Side Dishes.

Lipton spent $5 million in measured media for Recipe Secrets during January through June of this year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

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