Nabisco doubles Cornnuts' spending

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Nabisco Biscuit Co.'s Cornnuts snack brand gets its first-ever national ad campaign this spring.

The print campaign Nabisco will launch in April for the crunchy toasted corn snacks, via FCB Worldwide, New York, is part of a new emphasis on the brand that includes doubling spending for 2000 to an estimated $8 million.

Nabisco acquired Cornnuts at the end of 1997, and has since waged only spot radio efforts in top Cornnuts markets. Now, though, Nabisco has built national distribution for the brand. The company intends to launch national advertising and promotions along with new varieties, packaging and displays to build awareness and trial of the snacks. A Web site (cornnuts.com) is also devoted to the brand.

In addition to the print ads -- which will introduce a new Cornnuts character -- Nabisco will tie in with 20th Century Fox for a sweepstakes pegged to the spring release of "Me, Myself & Irene" starring top comic Jim Carrey. Packaging and point-of-purchase materials will tout a $25,000 grand prize as well as $25 cash prizes and free Cornnuts.

NEW VARIETIES

That strategy follows last November's Cornnuts tie-in with New Line Cinema's video release of "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." That promotion also included an on-package sweepstakes on 15 million packages.

Nabisco is also introducing two new varieties of the toasted corn, Taco and Red Hot, and will encourage trial by handing out 5 million samples at events and retail locations across the country.

PLAYING TO IMPULSE

As it has done with other snack items, including the Planters line, Nabisco will shift packaging for Cornnuts from a 9-ounce canister to a 7-ounce standup bag popular for convenience stores. To build the brand as a top-of-mind impulse purchase at convenience stores, Nabisco has created an on-counter display for smaller-sized bags.

Sales for Cornnuts in grocery and drug stores and mass merchandisers dropped 3.4% to $13.8 million for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 2, according to Information Resources Inc. Cornnuts has a 99% share of what IRI terms the "toasted corn" category.

Since the acquisition of Cornnuts Co. for less than $50 million two years ago, Nabisco Holdings Corp. has closed the Urbana, Ohio, plant that produced the snack, and transferred all production to Fresno, Calif. The move was a cost-cutting one, and at the time of the closing Nabisco executives said the Ohio plant was not being used to its full capacity, and that the savings would be put into advertising.

North Castle Partners, Stamford, Conn., handled the account until November.

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