PILLSBURY PUTS GREEN GIANT BACK OUT FRONT IN NEW ADS: SPOKESCHARACTER'S 75TH ANNIVERSARY MARKED WITH RETURN TO BRANDING

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The Jolly Green Giant will lumber through the valley for the first time in eight years as Pillsbury Co. switches gears with a new branding effort.

The print campaign, timed to coincide with the character's 75th anniversary, breaks this month and marks a strategic shift on the estimated $15 million account.

In recent years, Pillsbury has focused its advertising on specific products, rather than a corporate approach for the overall trademark.

"When we began testing for the campaign, consumer focus groups helped move our strategy from 'meal solution focused' to a more traditional brand advertising strategy featuring the giant," said Heidi Thom, Green Giant VP.

Not that he was ever entirely banished: Although he didn't appear in TV spots, the giant was heard bellowing his familiar, "Ho, ho, ho." The 80-year-old actor who still gives the giant his voice has been uttering that line since 1962.

'GIVE PEAS A CHANCE'

In the new effort from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, which has handled the account since 1931, the Giant once again takes center stage. In one magazine ad, he's shown with the tagline, "Give peas a chance." In another, the copy reads: "I stand for goodness (In fact, I haven't sat down since 1925)."

Publication-specific ads are planned. One for the National Enquirer is headlined "I've been digging up dirt for years." The ad created for People's "Best Dressed" issue carries the line "When you dress like this, you better eat your vegetables."

"Our target audience is moms, and we want the giant to speak to them by acting as an ally," said Jeff Hughes, media supervisor on the account at Burnett sibling Starcom USA, Chicago. "In establishing a media plan, we chose magazines that really speak directly to them, discussing topics such as parenting, cooking and health."

The giant, recognized by Advertising Age as one of the three top ad icons of the 20th century, was modeled after a "Grimm's Fairy Tales" character and originally was white, wore a bearskin and a menacing frown. The marketer, then known as Minnesota Valley Canning Co., moved its advertising to Erwin, Wasey & Co., Chicago, in 1931, and was assigned to a budding copywriter. When Leo Burnett formed his own shop four years later, the now leaf-clad Giant went with him.

In 1959, the character hit TV for the first time with the famous jingle, "Good things from the garden." His red scarf was added in 1969, when the brand made its way from the canned foods section to the freezer case. A companion, the Little Green Sprout, joined him three years later.

The Giant comes back on the scene as competition heats up in the canned vegetable category. Del Monte Foods, for one, is trying to make canned vegetables more relevant with a new ad tack (AA, Aug. 2) that is similar to

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