WHAT'S NEXT FOR SNAPPLE? ONLY SMITHBURG KNOWS

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CHICAGO-Quaker Oats Co. Chairman-CEO William Smithburg is keeping plans for the Snapple brand close to the vest.

At the company's annual meeting last week, he pledged only to "improve the effectiveness of our marketing expenditures" with fresh creative from Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York. New ads will break in March or April.

Quaker did confirm spokeswoman Wendy will not appear in future ads but will play a role in promotions and public relations.

Snapple sales are expected to fall 4.5% this year to $640 million. The marketer is introducing new packaging and more diet drinks in an attempt to drive 15% sales growth for the brand next year.

Mr. Smithburg said Quaker sees "lots of opportunity in diet," as only eight of Snapple's 45 current varieties are diet. Quaker inherited 65 Snapple flavors when it acquired the brand 11 months ago.

Snapple apologies dominated the two-hour meeting, but the word "cereal' did come up. Volume of Quaker's value-price, bagged cereals-including Cocoa Blasts, Fruity Oh's and Marshmallow Safari-has grown over 50% to date this year. The marketer said it's expanding production of the budget line.

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