Kraft Foods will bring back Poupon's pompous Rolls-Royce rider (with a contemporary twist) in an effort breaking in June that will introduce three varieties of the upscale condiment: Harvest Course Ground, Savory Honey and Hearty Spicy Brown.
Original 1980s spot
The ads, from WPP Group's JWT, Chicago, hark back to spots that themselves harked back to the original 1980s spot from Lowe Marschalk (now Lowe & Partners). The marketer dragged out the old theme in 1997 to promote squeeze packaging. It was used again in 2001 to launch premium yellow mustard after new parent Kraft found "Pardon me" still had almost 70% consumer awareness even though it had not been used for nearly four years.
This time around, national print ads will reprise the theme after a few years that saw barely a mention of Grey Poupon in the media. Kraft spent less than $1 million in media on the brand during the first nine months of last year and nothing on it in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.
"Consumers know, love and associate [the 'Pardon me' campaign] so strongly with the Grey Poupon brand," Kraft spokeswoman Lisa Gibbons said. The hope is that its revival will help drive awareness for the new flavors, which are intended to meet growing consumer desire for bolder, bigger flavors, especially in the premium category, Ms. Gibbons said.
Holding its own
Even without much support, Grey Poupon has been holding its own in the nearly $300 million mustard category, with sales up 4% last year to $42 million in food, drug and mass outlets excluding Wal-Mart, according to Information Resources Inc. But the rise of smaller gourmet offerings has Kraft on the defensive.
Some retailers are wary of carrying more than a few Grey Poupon varieties. One retail executive said she wanted to take on only one of the new flavors but was strong-armed by the Kraft salesman to carry two. Nicely, she told him: "But of course."