PILLSBURY TAKES A GIANT STEP ONLINE;VEGGIE RECIPE PROMO PROVES POPULAR AMONG PRODIGY SUBSCRIBERS

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Green Giant's first venture into cyberspace has been a lot more than ho-ho-hum.

The Pillsbury Co. unit created a multifaceted promotion on Prodigy that the online service is now using to woo other potential package-goods advertisers.

Green Giant sponsored Prodigy's food bulletin board for one month earlier this year. Five advertising screens displayed eight Green Giant entrees and side dish recipes, including photos of the prepared dishes. Users could print out recipes and get cooking tips.

The promotion was part of a larger one-month marketing campaign that included an interactive 800-number with a fax-back service, as well as the more traditional newspaper free standing inserts, spot radio commercials and in-store demonstrations.

"We wanted another way that consumers could get the recipes immediately," a Pillsbury spokeswoman said. Prodigy's subscriber base, 40% of which are women, offered the company a unique way to get those recipes into the hands of consumers, she said.

Pillsbury also sent e-mail messages to some 90,000 Prodigy subscribers, inviting them to visit the Green Giant recipe area. Pillsbury said more than 12% of the recipients visited the area, more than twice the average number of looks such solicitations usually receive.

On the food bulletin board, viewers could click on an ad to enter the Green Giant area. Some 60,000 accesses were recorded. Of those, more than 25% went on to call up the Green Giant screens.

"That's a tremendous response," said Patricia Baptiste, area marketing manager for Telerep, Prodigy's ad sales rep.

The Prodigy experiment was one of the first new-media ventures by Pillsbury, which about a year ago established an integrated brand communications group to coordinate all consumer communications, including new-media activities. Pillsbury's Karl Schmidt, group promotion manager, directed the Prodigy venture, but the company still expects its agencies- Leo Burnett Co., Chicago; Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco; D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis; and Campbell-Mithun-Esty, Minneapolis, to propose new-media opportunities for Pillsbury brands.

"We felt what Prodigy did was give us an ease of reach and immediacy," said Mr. Schmidt. "We felt they had a quick and immediate solution that allowed [subscribers] to get the information we wanted to distribute. Prodigy had the best package, the best graphics, the reach and the audience."

In addition, the Prodigy promotion meshed well with the 800-number recipe hotline Green Giant was operating, as well as the fax-back service in which consumers could enter their fax number and receive within minutes complete versions of the recipes they heard on the hotline, the spokeswoman said.

Despite its success on Prodigy, Pillsbury doesn't currently have another online promotion in the works.

"We're monitoring other opportunities," the spokeswoman said, "searching for the ones that fit in with our business objectives."

It's probably too soon to look for a Green Giant site on the World Wide Web, though.

"We know that the online services reach a limited number of consumers at this time, but our feeling is that online advertising is a nice component of a larger advertising and promotion program," the spokeswoman said.

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