After snapping up businesses in six other Latin American markets, Parmalat this fall broke a regional marketing drive Mr. Novaes dubbed "Parmalatization," focusing on brand building, creative ads and sponsorship.
Brazil accounts for 40% of Parmalat's worldwide sales, so the marketer turned to DM9, its Brazil agency, to introduce it to the rest of Latin America and build a portfolio of Parmalat brands.
"In every new market, the first product to be launched is milk," Mr. Novaes said, followed in some markets by dairy products, juice, cookies, soup and other products. And the marketer's first mineral water brand will debut in Mexico in 1996.
Parmalat is the world's largest producer of shelf-stable Ultra High Temperature milk, popular in Latin America because it doesn't need refrigeration.
"In Italy, Parmalat is considered one of the top food companies," said Simonetta Chiriotti, analyst at Studio Albertini, Milan. "They're great marketers, continually sponsoring a variety of promotions, like a giveaway of a watch with soccer stars on the face." Parmalat sponsors Latin American and European soccer teams, as well as a Parmalat Soccer Cup competition.
Parmalat renamed local Latin American brands it acquired and is promoting them with DM9 ads. The marketer is spending $20 million on Brazil advertising and $10 million elsewhere in Latin America.
Parmalat's new iron-enriched milk is rolling out in Latin America with one of DM9's first ads to be adapted internationally. The TV spot depicts children looking down at a shorter, unseen child, as a voiceover asks, "Do you want your child's friends to see him like this? .*.*. Or like this?" it adds, showing the kids gazing upward.
Print ads for Light Parmalat skim milk, launched in October, feature slender adults wearing only cow-like spots. The theme: "Milk for those who care about themselves."
Parmalat's consumers and rivals alike noticed print ads of children garbed as Batman and Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman and other superheroes while clutching glasses of milk. Nestle hit back at the campaign's theme, "Love for milk," with magazine ads by McCann-Erickson themed "Love for you." Nestle elaborated: "Only Nestle understands milk, because we always put you first."
Brazil is leading Parmalat's entry into China through a joint-venture with a state dairy. Parmalat is also eyeing India, according to Gianguido Oliva, director of investor relations, who said, "India has the second highest population of milk drinkers [per capita] after the U.S.'
Amy Barone contributed to this story.