P&C PUTS PRICE PITCH ON ICE TO BUILD IMAGE

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P&C Foods, Syracuse, N.Y., is running a multimedia campaign that avoids traditional price war strategies common in grocery marketing and focuses instead on building image.

In one TV spot highlighting P&C's fresh produce, a chimpanzee tries to gain entry to the store's "banana-ripening room" where the fruit is undergoing its "slow-ripening process." A second spot pokes fun at a competing outlet's bulk meat selection. As a man drags a side of beef down a store aisle, a voice-over asks, "Tired of having to buy your meats in bulk just to get a good deal? Check out P&C's top quality cuts, which are as big or as small as you need them-and all at a low price that anyone can handle."

"It is a very different approach for P&C," said Sue Hosey, VP-consumer and public affairs. "We have been a traditional price and item advertiser. We never had a campaign that focused on image building. This [campaign] is not price and item [oriented] but what we offer people. We are rebuilding and upgrading our stores, and this serves as a way to invite people to our stores."

The tagline is "Everything you need. Just the way you like it." The $4 million campaign-the first from Mark Russell & Associates-includes TV, radio, print and in-store signage. P&C Foods, a division of the Penn Traffic Co., operates 61 stores in upstate New York and handled its own advertising in-house for 15 years.

Ms. Hosey wouldn't comment on store sales since the advertising began March 6.

"We don't try to tie sales to any one thing; there are too many variables involved," she said. "But there's been tremendous positive response from people, great word-of-mouth and feedback."

The ads focus on freshness and variety, "two keys for the customer today," Ms. Hosey said. "We are selling quality and value."

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