T.G.I. Fridays, P&G tie-in continues with coupons

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Procter & Gamble Co. continues the tie-in between its Fit produce rinse and T.G.I. Friday's with a newspaper coupon Sept. 1.

The coupon drop, which will offer $5 off a meal at the restaurant chain and $3 off a bottle of Fit, adds more weight to a joint promotion between unlikely partners. Restaurants rarely call attention to the cleaning products they use and household products companies seldom put marketing muscle behind away-from-home products.

The Fit/Friday's effort breaks those rules. It began with a 30-second TV spot from Northlich, Cincinnati, that started last month and runs through this month. It features an actress portraying a nutrition student working her way through school as a Friday's waitress who touts the benefits of cleaning produce with Fit. The ads include a demo showing dirt and other residue left in a bowl after produce is washed in it with Fit.

Along with the newspaper insert coupon, there are in-store efforts including Fit window decals in Friday's stores and menu inserts, table tents and buttons worn by servers, all promoting Fit. A total of 40,000 Friday's employees also have received samples of Fit so they can talk it up.

"It's a great way to get a synergy between the at-home and away-from-home markets," said Bob Gilbreath, assistant brand manager for Fit. "It's really the first time in P&G history we've looked at both of those from day one as a whole, combined brand. For us, it just makes sense because 50% of meals are eaten away from home today."

Spending on the effort wasn't disclosed, although the total marketing budget for Fit is believed to be $60 million. Neither party would disclose terms of the arrangement. But it's believed Friday's, a unit of Carlson International, and P&G are sharing costs of production and media.

"Friday's helps us get the third-party endorsement that's really critical," Mr. Gilbreath said. "It's not just us saying it works."

SALES INCREASE

"What we're really hearing is that people are glad Friday's is taking the extra step," said John Gilbert, Carlson's senior VP-marketing and research and development.

He said the program will be evaluated after the initial flight of ads and may be followed with future flights. P&G doesn't have results either, but found in its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, test market in 1998 that sales for Carlos O'Kelly's, a Midwest Mexican restaurant chain, were 18% higher in Cedar Rapids during a similar ad campaign vs. stores outside the area.

Though Grey Worldwide, New York, is agency of record for Fit's overall branding, which includes TV and print ads launched last month, Northlich got the Fit-Friday's assignment by virtue of its handling P&G's commercial and institutional cleaning products.

The Friday's campaign is part of a strategy in which P&G tries to develop as many points of contact with consumers as possible.

Another element in that effort is P&G's partnership with Tupperware Corp., which will make Fit demos part of 100,000 Tupperware parties, Mr. Gilbreath said.

"We definitely need . . . broadscale TV for awareness," he said, "but it's going to be a lot of those little hits, so to speak, that can really make [Fit] work."

P&G also is considering co-marketing deals with packaged consumer produce brands, a spokeswoman said.

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