Sara Lee employs umbrella strategy for food divisions

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Two of Sara Lee Corp.'s food divisions launch major efforts this month, each introducing a single theme used for a variety of products.

With new marketing VPs at the helm, both the Hillshire Farm & Kahn's and Jimmy Dean Foods units of Sara Lee will embark on integrated campaigns to help promote their varied sausage lineups.

Hillshire this week breaks a $10 million campaign to sell the Hillshire Farm brand's many varieties of dinner sausage and lunch meats under the theme "Bring the flavor home." Meanwhile, Jimmy Dean breaks its own multiproduct ad effort Oct. 16 under the banner "Fresh taste guaranteed, that's the Jimmy Dean way."


For Hillshire, the leader in the $1.2 billion refrigerated dinner sausage category with more than a 30% share, the decision to shift to an umbrella strategy vs. a series of single-product-focused ads came from the extensive business reviews new VP-Retail Marketing Nancy Koglmeier requested when she joined 15 months ago.

"None of the [Hillshire Farm] products was big enough to alone support the spending I thought the business needed, so the way to make an impact and deliver truly top line growth was to bring the funds together in an integrated approach," said Ms. Koglmeier, adding that the effort is intended to increase household penetration of the more than $500 million Hillshire brand.

Ms. Koglmeier has developed a new three-person Hillshire Farm marketing task force that works across all product lines. Individual product managers, formerly in charge of spearheading their own products' marketing, now focus more on financial matters and sales implementation, she said. The task force is currently working on revamping packaging for uniformity.


The new campaign, from Euro RSCG Tatham, Chicago, kicks off with a TV spot this week that introduces Hillshire Farm's new road trip theme, "In search of great American meals." The journey includes a Wisconsin Oktoberfest celebration with bratwurst, a Cajun party on the bayou with jambalaya made from smoked sausage, and a fete out west, where folks at the Perez family reunion partake of Lit'l Smokies.

The tagline, "Bring the flavor home," is meant to show how these seemingly complicated recipes can be made easily at home with Hillshire Farm; the spot ends by leading viewers "Hungry for more" to recipes at


The bulk of the marketing spending will be focused on print ads featuring recipes for regional dishes, to run in publications such as Better Homes & Gardens, Parade and Soap Opera Digest beginning this month. Radio ads will break in December and newspaper inserts will run throughout the year. Ms. Koglmeier will to test higher spending levels against the campaign in Cleveland, Milwaukee and Syracuse, N.Y.

"The cost-cutting focus of the '90s drove down our marketing spend, and I want to demonstrate [to Sara Lee] that marketing spending is important," she said. Pending results of the tests, Ms. Koglmeier hopes to be able to increase the marketing budget for Hillshire Farm.

Jimmy Dean, too, will up spending as it uses advertising to tout more than just its flagship 1-pound sausage rolls. The unit will increase its spending during the crucial fourth quarter holiday season by 30%, said Carolyn Wise, who joined as VP-marketing in January. Jimmy Dean spent $5.4 million for the October through December time period in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

"We're taking a more holistic approach to our business, in part because the introduction of our new flavored [sausage] links is a big idea and we had not traditionally advertised links before," she said.

The new campaign, from Berry Brown, Dallas, includes four 15-second TV spots featuring company chairman and founder Jimmy Dean. The spots use the new umbrella tagline, "Fresh taste guaranteed; that's the Jimmy Dean way," and showcase a variety of products in a pan cooking beside one another. However, each spot highlights a specific product, among them new fresh link flavors, such as Smokehouse and Maple and a new Smokehouse sausage roll. Print, mainly in women's service magazines, and radio will also be used.

Although Jimmy Dean has a presence in a variety of categories, it holds its largest presence -- a 19.6% share -- in the $181 million breakfast sausage category, with sales up 11.1% to $150 million for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 10, according to Information Resources Inc.

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