"People don't just want one or two or even three animals," said Vania de Alcantara Machado, 37, marketing director for the Italian dairy products company and one of the more prominent women in marketing in Brazil. "They want the whole collection of 21."
The simple idea of linking Parmalat milk with milk-drinking mammals led to the May 1996 creation by Sao Paulo-based DM9 DDB of an ad campaign featuring children dressed in animal suits. And the campaign has been enormously successful for the marketer.
Parmalat's research at the end of 1995 found only 19% of Brazilian kitchens stocked its brands. One year later, that figure had risen to 96%, according to Ms. Alcantara Machado.
A consumer poll in a local trade magazine in mid-'98 showed nearly a quarter of respondents cited Parmalat's ads as their favorites, with Coca-Cola Co. a distant second.
With rapid sales growth, acquisitions and a frenetic schedule of product launches -- into areas like snacks and tomato sauces -- Parmalat's Brazilian subsidiary will double sales this year to $2 billion.
The popularity of the Parmalat campaign is what led to the creation of the stuffed animal line. The plush toys cost about $7 plus a number of proofs-of-purchase.
Ms. Alcantara Machado has ordered a total 8 million of the stuffed animals, and said they are a key marketing tool.
"Kids go to sleep cuddling your brand," she said. "That's the best branding you can have."