Natalia Franco, brand building director, led the gains by broadening the reach to kids and teens -- the consumers who actually eat the pizza rolls.
Ms. Franco knows that characters on "That '70s Show" serve pizza rolls, "but we didn't organize that." Still, kids seem to have noticed.
Ms. Franco cites ACNielsen Corp. data showing Totino's pizza sales up 8% and Totino's pizza rolls up 18% for the 52-week period ended May 15. Information Resources Inc. reports that in supermarket sales alone, Totino's pizza roll appetizers were up 65.5% for the 52 weeks ended March 26.
"When I got here in June 1998, pizza sales were clearly declining, and pizza rolls were flat to declining," says Ms. Franco, 39. "I pushed to get closer to our key consumers who are eating the product: the kids and the teen-agers. Kids are empowered because they can make the pizza on their own, and they love Totino's. Moms feel comfortable buying our pizza because they know it's nutritious and that their kids will love it."
To communicate this brand message to kids and teens, Pillsbury launched its first-ever National Football League promotion that ran from September through January. The "collect and win" promotion was supported by national and spot TV commercials.
"Totino's was always addressed to moms as our key consumer, but kids are driving the purchases. . . . It sounds simple, but it's very powerful," says Ms. Franco.