Nestle Crunch: Brian Owens

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Nestle Crunch Marketing Manager Brian Owens set out in 2001 to reverse several years of sales declines by establishing a consistent brand message that emphasized the candy's "crunchy" personality and key attributes.

Mr. Owens, 33, started by signing Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal as lead spokesman. "Crunchy means confident, lively, witty and entertaining," says Mr. Owens, formerly marketing manager for Nestle USA's Disney licensed products. "Shaq is all those things. He's an almost perfect match with the attributes of the brand." He also appeals to the target demographic, 18-to-34-year-olds. Nestle promoted the Shaq relationship at several events, including the Nestle Crunch Kid's Zone at last February's National Basketball Association All-Star Game weekend. Also that month, two TV commercials debuted featuring Mr. O'Neal. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Dailey & Associates, West Hollywood, Calif., handles.

The results have been sweet. In the campaign's first three months, according to ACNielsen, dollar volume of Nestle Crunch was up 5.2% over a year earlier, compared with 2.4% growth for the chocolate candy segment overall.

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