ORE-IDA POTATOES FIGHT FRESH VEGGIES: PRINT CAMPAIGN REVEALS CASES OF SPUD-ENVY

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H.J. Heinz Co.'s Ore-Ida Foods, trying to run with the booming fresh produce trend, this week launches a campaign positioning its frozen potatoes as a quick and more popular mealtime alternative.

In a new, print-only campaign from Citron Haligman Bedecarre, San Francisco, a series of jealous fresh vegetables "discuss" their frustration with the popularity of potatoes. Heinz said it was spending $20 million on the campaign.

TURNIP'S SECRET WISH

In the first ad, three unhappy asparagus express their displeasure in realizing that not everyone likes them. In other executions, a turnip admits it secretly wishes it were a potato.

Each ad includes photos of some of the multiple varieties of Ore-Ida potatoes, such as cheddar cheese twice-baked, country style and a new selection, waffle fries. Several ads will include recipes for using the frozen potatoes in dishes such as casseroles. The ads are tagged with the Ore-Ida logo and the longtime line, "All-righta."

The campaign is a shift away from Ore-Ida's traditional positioning as a side dish.

"Fresh vegetables are one of the fastest-growing categories in the supermarket," said Tom Bedecarre, chairman of Citron.

At the same time, working families are looking for a quick meal, and products that provide them with some variety.

SOME MINOR GAINS

Frozen potatoes have shown minor sales gains, but not nearly as much as fresh vegetables. According to Information Resources Inc., the $756.6 million frozen potato category was up 1.4% for the 52 weeks ended March 1. Ore-Ida, with sales of $445.8 million, has a 58.9% share, with private-label products at sales of $194.8 million commanding another 25.7%

Heinz, which has slashed ad spending radically in recent years, has said that as part of its Project Millennia, it will shift dollars back into media. Last year, Ore-Ida spent only about $3 million in measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Contributing: Judann Pollack.

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