Mott's ripe for TV

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TV advertising plays a crucial role in Mott's USA's efforts to fend off increased competition for its applesauce and fruit sauces among kids.

Mott's plans to spend "significantly" more than double its 2001 spending of a mere $3 million-an estimated $10 million at least-on its applesauce and fruit-sauce sales as it launches first-time national advertising for its Fruitsations, Healthy Harvest and new Fruit Blasters tube yogurt. The franchise has suffered recently from an influx of competitive products, with sales down 3.5% in supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers (excluding Wal-Mart Stores) for the 52 weeks ended March 24, according to Information Resources Inc.

"We've seen much more competitive activity than in the past, as marketers in categories such as cut fruit and yogurt have engaged in a lot of innovation and brand-building," said Lesya Lysyj, senior VP-marketing, Mott's.

Dole Food Co.'s new single-serve cut-fruit cups, Dole Fruit Bowls, grew 36% to $76 million for the year-ended March 24 and Del Monte Foods' Fruit to Go likewise grew double digits to $42 million, according to IRI. Smaller applesauce competitor Tree Top has seen its sales grow nearly 40% due to the introduction of its own tube applesauce, Fruit Rocketz.

TRIED AND TESTED

The increased TV spending, Ms. Lysyj said, comes after tests of TV ads in limited markets, which "prove that they do build the business," she said. The Fruitsations spot, developed by Moss/Dragoti, New York-before Mott's moved its account to Wolf Group, New York, in January-helped grow business 42% in test markets, she said. The spot features a young girl and boy free-associating about Mott's Fruitsations and why they love it.

Fruit Blasters, which offer smoother, more intense-flavored applesauce in a tube similar to the one popularized by General Mills' Yoplait Go-Gurt, will be supported in May with a TV campaign from Wolf. The effort will aim to entice 8-year-olds, with the extreme taste of the product and the tagline, "Blast me." Research shows 8-year-olds influence 60% of food purchases. Packages will carry 81 different Mad Libs games.

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