Package foods focus efforts on eating out

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Food companies' marketing efforts are usually aimed at getting consumers to reach for their products at the grocery store. But many are now using ads to get consumers to reach for their products when someone else is cooking the meal.

H.J. Heinz Co. recently launched a first-ever consumer ad effort on behalf of its food-service division to entreat people to "insist on Heinz" ketchup in restaurants. And Kraft Foods has garnered attention for its Kraft salad dressing brand in a current Burger King print campaign and for its Oreo brand in upcoming TV spots for Dairy Queen.

growing area

"Most manufacturers have not taken food service quite as seriously as the more traditional retail space, but food-service dollars are growing faster than retail and will be more than half of total food expenditures by 2010," said Lauri Kien Kotcher, partner of McKinsey & Co.

Ms. Kien Kotcher recently addressed a group of food manufacturer CEOs at a Grocery Manufacturers Association meeting, offering advice on how to take their brands into away-from-home outlets.

"Pure and simple, that's where the growth is," said Rick Abraham, VP at GMA, pointing to industry numbers that show retail food sales flat to negative, and food service growing at a healthier 2% to 3% clip. As a result, he said, "we are seeing a trend of going to the consumer to tell them `you're getting brand X if you're going in to restaurants' as an attempt to get food-service operators to use their products."

Heinz this summer launched an unprecedented TV, print and outdoor effort from Ten/United, Pittsburgh, showing the disappointment of restaurant customers if they aren't given Heinz Ketchup ( QwikFIND aan86f).

"Post 9/11, with the economy soft, a lot of the restaurant chains that use our product are flat to down slightly, and in cutting costs, they may consider going to a different brand of ketchup," said Jeff Berger, president of Heinz North America Foodservice division. Although he cited statistics that four out of five U.S. restaurants use Heinz's 14-oz. bottle on the table, he said, "it's a real good time to reinforce to operators that it's important for Heinz ketchup to be visible."

Funds for the campaign came from the $100 million that Heinz CEO Bill Johnson has pledged to reinvest behind core brands as the CEO "is a big supporter of food service," Mr. Berger said, adding that the division is "optimistic" that the campaign be continued beyond its scheduled 13-week run.

enhancing quality

The co-branded advertising waged from quick-service restaurants on behalf of Kraft brands-from Burger King for its new Chicken Caesar Salad and 30-second spots in September for a new Peanut Butter Oreo Double Delight Blizzard at Dairy Queen-is not necessarily ground-breaking, as such initiatives have been developed before. But, according to Judy Karner, director of marketing services for Kraft Food Service, "There is greater receptivity now from food-service operators to brand our products in their restaurants," in part, she said, because of studies that show 48% of consumers feel brands enhance the quality image of a restaurant.

A Burger King spokesperson said that, "By using a brand that has such positive recognition with consumers we're telling consumers that we're using a high-quality dressing."

When possible, Kraft, like other branded manufacturers, works with food-service operators to promote co-branded menu items in advertising, sometimes helping fund those initiatives and sometimes "finding that the use of our brands is enough," Ms. Karner said. For Kraft, such exposure is critical to its strategy to be "wherever the consumer is going to be consuming food-at home or away from home."

Last month, McDonald's launched a "Kid Treat Menu" featuring products co-branded with General Mills' Yoplait Go-Gurt and Fruit Roll-Up brands and Dannon Co.'s Danimals, which it supported with a large-scale TV effort.

contributing: kate macarthur

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