FROM TOASTER STRUDEL TO MCD'S COSTUMES, HALLOWEEN IS HOWLING: FOOD MARKETERS EXTEND HOLIDAY BEYOND CANDY WITH NEW TIE-INS

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From positioning cereals as trick-or-treat giveaways to selling monster cookies and costumes based on ad icons, marketers are working hard to extend Halloween beyond candy to cash in on a potential $2.5 billion seasonal sales opportunity.

"Every year there are more market tie-ins from cookies to breakfast cereals to Taco Bell," said a spokesman for the National Retail Federation. The group anticipates sales of Halloween candy will reach $950 million this year; consumers will spend another $1 billion on costumes, $500 million on holiday decorations and $50 million on greeting cards.

`INSTANT HOLIDAY HELP'

"Busy consumers are looking for instant holiday help," said Mona Doyle, president of researcher Consumer Network. "This year [marketers] will do especially well as the trend is for parents to enhance childhood," emphasizing innocent traditions to deflect attention from the goings-on in Washington that have "intruded on some lives," she said.

In addition to its holiday-theme cookie dough products, Pillsbury Co. this year is marketing a Scary Blueberry Toaster Strudel featuring holiday packaging and orange icing as well as Hungry Jack-branded GhoulBerry waffles. The waffles feature orange and black "bits" and will be supported with a free-standing insert dropping Oct. 18.

TIES TO UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

Nabisco Biscuit Co., in addition to its Halloween Oreo, this year is introducing Universal Studios Monster Cookies, boxes of chocolate cookies with embossed pictures of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman. The marketer is also giving away a trip to Universal Studios Florida.

Also offering a trip to Universal Studios is M&M/Mars in a promotion with Snickers and Fun Size candy bars. That's one prize in the "Be Home for Herman" sweepstakes, the winner of which will find the ghoulish character Herman Munster knocking on their door on Halloween to award a grand prize of $200,000 toward the purchase or renovation of a home. A two-page insert in magazines and radio ads will support the promotion; BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles.

Nabisco Foods' Lifesavers unit will introduce Ghastly Gummies, a gummy candy in Halloween shapes; Lifesavers Halloween Assortment in holiday colors of orange, black and yellow; and Lifesavers Pops for trick-or-treat giveaways.

Kraft Foods will sponsor a "Haunted Halloween House Party" instant-win game spread among 28 of its brands, including Jell-O, Post, Philadelphia and Tombstone.

The $1 million instant-win promotion will be supported with TV, print and FSIs from Y&R Advertising, New York, beginning next month The company will also introduce for the first time limited edition versions of its Post Waffle Crisp and Honeycomb cereals adding purple bats and orange pumpkins to each.

ORANGE & BLACK JELL-O

Jell-O is also bringing out orange and black puddings and gelatins with names such as Scary Berry Black and is tying in with United Features Syndicates' video of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."

A joint tie-in is planned by Hershey Foods Corp. and General Mills. Big G's Count Chocula, FrankenBerry and BooBerry cereals will carry coupons on boxes for free Hershey's candy; the marketers together will give away a total of $13 in coupons toward Hershey and General Mills products as well as the purchase of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's September release of "Casper Meets Wendy."

Elsewhere at Big G, the company is linking with Scholastic's "Goosebumps" property with Halloween-theme fruit rollups products and a promotion that will bring "Goosebumps" author R.L. Stine to the winning kid's school for a creative writing class. Among the new lines are Scary Goosebumps under the Roll-ups line and a Green Gushing Ooze version of Fruit Gushers.

FSI ROLLS IN OCTOBER

A free-standing insert will drop in October; dedicated TV spots from Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, also will back the promotion.

Kellogg Co. is pitching its new Snack-Pack individual bags of Froot Loops, Corn Pops and Apple Jacks as alternatives to candy, and individually wrapped, smaller versions of its Rice Krispie Treats Squares as a limited-time line.

But food companies aren't content to have their products given away to trick-or-treaters -- they want their ad icons to go door to door. Licensing characters for Halloween costumes has hit boom times, with General Mills, Pillsbury and McDonald's joining the ranks.

The country's largest costumer, Rubie's Costume Co. began the trend three years ago with Hershey's Kisses and M&M's outfits ,and this year will add McDonald's Big Mac, French Fries, Shake and Hamburgler (and for kids only, Ronald McDonald); Kellogg's Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam and Snap, Crackle and Pop; Big G's Count Chocula, FrankenBerry and BooBerry; and Pillsbury's DoughBoy, Green Giant and Little Green Sprout.

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