Nestle targets grownups with rollout of 'Ultimates'

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Nestle USA will put $13 million in marketing behind the launch of its Toll House Ultimates refrigerated cookie dough in an effort to reach an upscale adult target and continue double-digit growth in the category.

The higher-priced Ultimates, including White Macadamia Nut and Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Chip varieties, feature fewer, bigger cookies per package. They use premium ingredients to appeal to adults as a "special treat" rather than as something they would make for kids, a Nestle spokeswoman said.

TV ads, which begin in October, and newspaper inserts and in-store displays that start in September invite adults to "Enjoy the Ultimate indulgence." WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Chicago, handles.

Despite still trailing General Mills' leading Pillsbury brand in the $420 million refrigerated cookie/ brownie dough category, Nestle has made big strides in recent years. The Ultimates launch follows a string of new-product efforts and increased marketing, beginning with the introduction in 1999 of the break-and-bake form that replaced standard cylinders. That was followed by fudge-filled bars and holiday shapes to compete with Pillsbury's portfolio of holiday sugar-cookie offerings. Such initiatives have helped drive category sales up from roughly $300 million in 1998, and its own sales up 13.3% to $156 million for the 52 weeks ended July 13, according to Information Resources Inc. Pillsbury saw growth of 2.3% to $238 million for the same period.


Pillsbury, too, tried to reach a more adult target with its launch last year of Big Deluxe Classic. The entire category has shifted recently from cylinders to more convenient ready-to-bake forms, with Nestle discontinuing the older packaging in all but its chocolate-chip variety.

Nestle will further leverage its Toll House brand with the introduction later this month of Nestle Toll House candy bars. The launch of the brand in the new form-both single-serve two-piece bars and bags of multiple bars-will be supported with more than $22 million in advertising beginning in January, including TV and print efforts targeting women 25 to 54.

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