Mott's looks to extend No. 1 reach

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Marketer extends successful licensing program with `Dragon Tales'

Mott's new VP-Marketing Lesya Juchymenko has a simple vision: to make each of the Cadbury Schweppes unit brands No. 1 in its category.

To meet her self-described "lofty goal," the 37-year-old Canadian-born executive is pledging to accelerate innovation and brand-building for the unit, which markets juices, sauces and cocktail mixers.

The company already leads in apple sauces and apple juices, thanks to efforts over the past few years to build those products into must-have brands for kids, accomplished with introductions of flashy Fruitsations varieties and licensing associations with hot Nickelodeon kids' properties.

But that's just a starting point. "Looking at the businesses [we have] and the categories they're in- we have a lot of gems, and if you get creative there are tons of opportunities," said Ms. Juchymenko. "We've grown our share in almost every one of the categories we compete in, and we want to continue that momentum."

According to Information Resources Inc., sales for Mott's Apple Sauce and Fruit Sauces grew 3.6% to $204 million for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 5, while its bottled apple juice sales grew 5.8% to $103 million.

Little advertising

Mott's has managed to grow sales in those categories with relatively little advertising-$3.3 million in measured media behind Fruitsations and Rugrats-themed apple sauces, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Griffin Bacal, New York, handles Mott's advertising.

But Mott's also hasn't completely leveraged large-scale promotional events toward the grocery trade.

The marketer hopes to remedy the problem with the launch this February of the largest-ever trade effort in the history of its apple juice brand. The push, a tie-in with Sesame Workshop and Sony Pictures Family Entertainment Group's popular "Dragon Tales" kids' program on PBS, will flag the most-watched show among 2-to-5-year-olds on 80 million packages of Mott's Apple Juice. The promotion is handled by Ryan Partnership, Westport, Conn.

Mott's will support the effort extensively in-store with ads in retailer circulars and end-aisle displays that tap into kid-fervor over the cartoon series that has exceeded ratings for both "Barney" and "Teletubbies."

Smart partners

Partnerships have been an important device for Mott's to differentiate itself in apple sauces, a category heavily dominated by private-label. Around its first major tie-in, a link to "Rugrats: The Movie" in the fall of 1998, Mott's said it was able to increase sales for juices and sauces by 20% during the four-month promotional period.

Mott's is now beginning to apply its partnership strategy to cocktail mixers. Cocktail mixers overall grew 12% for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 5, IRI said, while Mott's sales for brands including Mr and Mrs T and Holland House grew more than 9%.

In cooperation with Cadbury Schweppes sibling Seagram Wine & Spirits Group, which last year introduced a Margaritaville Tequila, Mott's in January will introduce a new ready-to-pour premium margarita mix under license with performer Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Holdings. Mott's already owns 26% of the fast-growing margarita mix segment through other brands.

Seagram in March launches a $10 million print, radio and outdoor campaign from Grey Worldwide, New York touting both its own Margaritaville Tequila and the new Mott's Margaritaville Margarita Mix.

The move comes as Shagadelic Shakers, Mott's tie-in with the "Austin Powers" franchise, has lost steam. The product captured less than $250,000 in the 52 weeks ended Nov. 5, and is dropping rapidly.

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