Nabisco maps major ad blitz to back new cookie, cracker lines

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Bowing to two of its core consumer groups, Nabisco in February will introduce whole new brands of both crackers and cookies.

Sportz, a line of cheddar- or pizza-flavor crackers in six sport-related shapes, is intended for kids ages 6 to 12; Cafe Cremes, a line of vanilla sandwich cookies, is aimed at women 45 and older.

The two new product lines, dubbed "major launches" by Donna Filkin, Nabisco's VP-marketing for new products and on-the-go, are intended to fill gaps Nabisco has identified in growing segments.


With Sportz, Nabisco hopes to drive sales of cheese snacks beyond the under-6 crowd by appealing to older kids' love of contemporary sports, such as soccer and in-line skating. Nabisco hopes Cafe Cremes will bolster its limited stake in the vanilla sandwich cookie segment by offering older women an everyday indulgence not met by rival Pepperidge Farm's Milano specialty cookies and Keebler Foods Co.'s Vienna Fingers.

While Nabisco would not comment on ad budgets specifically, both Sportz and Cafe Cremes will receive strong advertising support in line with an overall spending increase of more than 20% against core cookie and cracker brands in 2000, according to Nabisco Biscuit Co. President Rick Lenny.

Nabisco spent $74 million in media to support cookies and crackers in 1998, per Competitive Media Reporting. For the first half of 1999, it shelled out $61.5 million.


Sportz, which features crackers in the shape of basketballs, footballs, soccer balls and other sports items, will receive 18 weeks of broadcast and cable TV spots directed at the 6 to 12 target, beginning at the end of the first quarter, as well as three months of mom-targeted print ads touting the wholesomeness of the cheese snacks.

FCB Worldwide, New York, is the agency for both new products.

Newspaper inserts, in-store sampling with coupons, a contest for kids to "Find Your Game Face" and Nabisco's kids Web site ( also support.

The Cafe Cremes line, which includes vanilla creme, cappuccino creme and a vanilla creme-layered-with-chocolate variety called double delight, will be supported with TV and print ads, expected to begin in March, that position the new cookies as a sweet snack to be enjoyed every day to celebrate life's little victories.

The ads likely will contain the message "The combination of a tender golden cake and rich creamy fillings is so irresistible, you will find yourself inventing things to celebrate."

Additional support includes newspaper inserts in February, sampling in March and retailer-tagged radio spots on adult contemporary stations in April.

Teddy Grahams -- thriving due to a relaunch in February -- as well as icon brands Ritz, Chips Ahoy!, Oreo and Ritz are all due to benefit from the increased ad spending, Mr. Lenny said.


While Nabisco is still the overall category leader for both the $3.4 million crackers segment and the $4.5 million cookies segment, it has been eclipsed by Keebler and Pepperidge Farm in the growing cheese cracker and white-sandwich-cookie segments.

Data from Information Resources Inc. show Nabisco's Cheese Nips entry grew 19.2% to $111 million for the year ended Nov. 7, while Keebler's Sunshine Cheez It grew 22.3% to $272 million and Pepperidge Farm's Goldfish grew 6.7% to $233 million.

Nabisco's own research shows it had only a 3% share of the white sandwich cookie segment, which grew 5.4% to $297 million in 1998, while Pepperidge Farm held a 26% share and Keebler 16%.


The Sportz intro is just one of a variety of initiatives Nabisco has planned to build its portfolio of kids brands in 2000. A la Frito-Lay's Planet Lunch program, Nabisco will aim to build special Nabisco kids destination centers in the snack aisle of stores that cater to families with kids. It will promote the destination centers via retail-specific ads and promotions.

New resealable bags, intended to ease on-the-go snacking for moms, will be offered for Sportz as well as for Mini Cheese Nips, Ritz Snack Mixes and Teddy Grahams.

"Because of the size and scale of our kid-targeted offerings we wanted to create a Nabisco section as a destination for moms to buy snacks for after-school or lunches," Mr. Lenny said.

Nabisco also will continue multibrand promotions, such as its annual "Cool School Bus" effort, and links to popular kids properties such as Nickelodeon's "Blue's Clues," the live tour of which Nabisco sponsors for Teddy Grahams.

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