TOTAL-LY TASTY: BROWN SUGAR BOWS; GENERAL MILLS POURS OUT $30 MIL IN MARKETING FOR CEREAL LINE EXTENSION

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General Mills is wagering $30 million in marketing that new Brown Sugar & Oat Total will wow baby boomers who will soon make up one-third of all cereal purchasers.

Big G is projecting to retailers that the line extension, featuring crunchy oat flakes coated with brown sugar, will rank among the top eight cereals in the adult category.

"Total stands alone as the healthiest cereal in the category," said one Midwest grocery executive. "And now it's actually going to taste good."

PERFECT FIT

Rick Hosfield, VP-advertising at Big G, said a 1-cup serving of Total offers 100% of the daily recommended amount of for vitamins A, C, E as well as folic acid, zinc and iron, making it a perfect fit with today's consumer health focus.

With the new variety, "we can offer a great-tasting alternative," he said.

Total is one of General Mills' best sellers, with sales up 1.6% to $104 million for the base brand for the year ended July 18, according to Information Resources Inc. Total Raisin Bran sales were up 15% to $52 million for the same period.

To drive awareness of the new variety that starts hitting retail shelves in November, General Mills will support it with a raft of TV and print ads via Saatchi & Saatchi, New York.

Newspaper inserts with introductory coupons start in December as well as extensive sampling efforts.

BIG JUMP IN SPENDING

The $30 million outlay is a big jump for Total, which received only $8 million in measured spending last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

"Saatchi and Campbell Mithun Esty have both benefited from increased spending around our health platform," noted Mr. Hosfield.

Among the products Minneapolis-based CME handles are Chex cereals and snacks and Nature Valley granola bars.

The heavily supported new-product launch for Total is on par with other recent baby boomer-targeted cereal launches, among them Kellogg Co.'s ubiquitous "Seize the day" campaign, built around the introduction of its sweetened multigrain Smart Start in March 1998.

That effort, from J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, blanketed TV networks, print media and outdoor boards. Extensive sampling was also used.

The combined effect created a buzz -- and a successful adult cereal in a

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