NABISCO SETS SNACKWELL'S 90-PER-DAY TV BARRAGE

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Nabisco Biscuit Co. on Jan. 1 begins a four-day TV barrage -- airing teaser spots 90 times a day -- to hype a SnackWell's consumer promotion in which the company will give away $1 million.

Because of the mix of syndication, network and spot TV buys the company is using, it's hard to pin down the cost of the promotion, handled by Impact Communications, Chicago, and Foote, Cone & Belding, New York.

COSTING UP TO $1 MIL DAILY

Media buyers, however, estimate the TV buy could amount to $1 million a day. When the cost of implementing the effort, including prize money and other media -- a three-page free-standing newspaper insert is planned for Jan. 4, along with extensive in-store advertising -- is factored in, it's believed Nabisco could be spending as much as $8 million on what's essentially less than a weeklong effort.

The promotion is only one element of a major rescue effort for the ailing $800 million SnackWell's line.

Senior Business Director Terry Preskar said the January promotion is part of a "broader, more integrated campaign throughout the year" for SnackWell's.

RELAUNCH PLANNED

"This is not a one-time, January kind of thing," she said, noting that Nabisco also plans a major relaunch for mid-1998, including a raft of new products.

"The last couple of years our consumer promotion has been very tactical," said Ms. Preskar, who noted that Nabisco was moving away from cents-off efforts toward bigger events.

The overall '98 promotional plan is to align with SnackWell's "Passion for snacking" advertising theme, and will include later in '98 a "strategic sampling [event] with tie-in partners" she wouldn't identify.

The TV effort kicks off New Year's Day with what Nabisco hopes will be a ubiquitous 15-second teaser spot stating there will be a major SnackWell's event that week. On subsequent days, 15-second countdown spots will run hyping the promotion, but withholding full details until Jan. 4.

"'We're running at Toyota Sell-A-Thon weights," said Ms. Preskar.

For the promotion itself, certificates worth $1,000 will be placed randomly in 1,000 packages of SnackWell's candies, cereal bars, club-store packs, cookies, crackers, frozen novelties and pastries.

50% SPENDING BOOST

The promotion is aimed at raising the profile of SnackWell's, which has suffered from declining sales due to the influx of thousands of competing better-for-you snack products in recent years. The company believes the road to recovery is increased spending -- Nabisco has said spending next year would be up 50% from an estimated $25 million this year -- and the rollout of tastier, more indulgent products.

While declining to give current sales figures for the complete SnackWell's line, Ms. Preskar acknowledged sales were still declining although "there's a slight moderation in the [rate of] decline."

Figures for the entire line weren't available, but according to Information Resources Inc., SnackWell's cookies sales were down 8.3% for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 7 to $183.2 million. Cracker sales fell 25.8% to $49.4 million.

On the plus side, the company's launch of two new SnackWell's cookies, including a chocolate peanut butter chip variety introduced in late summer, have been

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