Partnerships: Kellogg broadens bond with Disney

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Even as Kellogg Co. rolls out a $20 million marketing push this week for its new Disney-themed cereals, the company is expanding its relationship with the entertainment giant to include Keebler cookies and crackers.

The Keebler deal, which is not expected to gain traction until early 2003, is clearly a vote of confidence in the Walt Disney Co. alliance Kellogg forged last September. That's significant, since the first new products to come from the deal-Mickey's Magix, Hunny Bs and Buzz Blasts cereals-have all just hit the shelves.

"The share numbers [for the Disney cereals] so far are looking great," said Jeff Montie, president of Morning Foods at Kellogg. He added the launch is intended to grow Kellogg's portfolio in the growing kids' cereal }segment, where the company "doesn't have a breadth of brands."

However, some Disney products now starting to invade stores are underwhelming retailers. Early marks on Coca-Cola Co.'s Disney-themed Minute Maid juices-Extreme Coolers and Hundred Acre Wood 100% Juices-are much less stellar.

"The line is doing horribly," said one East Coast retail executive. "Everyone was hoping that [the Minute Maid juices] were going to grow their category, and they haven't." Already, he said, Minute Maid has lowered the promotion price in some stores for what were intended to be higher-margin products.

Sales for the juices reached $23 million as of Dec. 30, according to Information Resources Inc., and a company spokesman said the line is performing at "category-leadership levels" and "right about at expectations." Print advertising for the Hundred Acre Woods 100% Juices, based on Winnie the Pooh, broke in January with a heavy schedule; TV advertising for the Extreme Coolers is scheduled to break this month after a slight delay.

Much of the advertising for the new Disney-themed products is being handled by Leo Burnett USA, Chicago. The Bcom3 Group agency is a roster shop for Disney, Kellogg and Keebler. Although the bulk of longtime client Minute Maid's business departed the agency amid the recent shuffling of Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo agency alignments, Burnett retained the Disney Minute Maid juices as a result of its Disney expertise.

Media ad spending for the upcoming line for Keebler, which relies heavily on in-store promotions, is expected to be limited.

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