Pepperidge Farm was founded in 1937 by Margaret Rudkin, a Connecticut woman who began baking bread in a search for healthful recipes for her asthmatic son.
Despite the economic pressures of the Depression, the business quickly grew to include mail-order distribution and sales through an outlet in Grand Central Station in New York. A 1939 Reader's Digest article, "Bread DeLuxe," helped make the company a household name and as business increased tenfold during the following decade, its operations were moved from Ms. Rudkin's home to a plant in Norwalk, Conn.
Advertising and promotion efforts from 1937 through the early 1950s were minimal and consisted principally of in-store demonstrations by Ms. Rudkin. In 1953, Ms. Rudkin took the demonstrations to TV, starring in one-minute spots that showed her in a kitchen, discussing her bread and extolling its health benefits. The spots, created by Kenyon & Eckhardt, proved so successful that the entire 1954 ad budget of $100,000 was devoted to TV.
"Pepperidge Fahm remembahs"
In 1960, after directing Pepperidge Farm's modest ad campaigns for more than two decades, Ms. Rudkin retained Ogilvy, Benson & Mather. Shortly after Pepperidge Farm hired the ad agency, print and broadcast advertisements began to feature a stereotypical New England character named the "Old Man," also known as Titus.
The first of those ads showed Titus sitting in a haystack, wearing a string tie and overalls while enumerating the health benefits of Pepperidge Farm breads. For more than three decades, the iconic Yankee embodied nostalgia for "old-time" values and integrity, dropping his R's as he reminded consumers that "Pepperidge Fahm remembahs."
Late in 1960, Campbell Soup Co. acquired Pepperidge Farm in a stock swap valued at $28.2 million, and Ms. Rudkin began to extricate herself from daily operations. While Pepperidge Farm continued to roll out new products, its ad approach remained remarkably consistent from the 1960s through the early 1980s, stressing "homemade" quality and family tradition and appealing to wealthier and more mature consumers, particularly those 45 and older.
In the mid-1980s, the company introduced the American Collection cookie line, naming each product after a specific U.S. location. Nantucket Chocolate Chunk, Chesapeake Chocolate Pecan and Sausalito Chocolate Macadamia helped establish the company's image as more than just a regional bakery.
Despite marketing accolades and the success of new products, for the fiscal year beginning Aug. 1, 1990, Pepperidge Farm slashed its ad spending by 55% to $8 million. The following year, the company spent $12 million on ad campaigns that emphasized the indulgent, decadent character of its luxury cookie lines on the one hand and the wholesome, healthy ingredients in its Family Request and Light Style bakery products on the other.
In 1995, Pepperidge Farm again substantially increased its ad spending, stressing the high quality of Pepperidge Farm's products. In an attempt to revamp the company's image, it moved away from the Titus character.
Part of the marketing overhaul included a revitalization of the Goldfish crackers brand, which only then received its first national ad campaign. In new ads, the previously sedate goldfish grew larger, sported sunglasses and wore bright smiles. TV continued to stress the product's healthy ingredients, noting that Goldfish were baked rather than fried and featuring children singing, "I love the fishes 'cause they're so delicious." Goldfish sales jumped 25%, from approximately 6.8 million to 8.5 million bags, in the first year of the campaign.
Citing a conflict of interest, Ogilvy resigned the Pepperidge Farm account and the company selected Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising to handle its $15 million ad budget. The new agency helped produce a distinctive series of spots, titled "Suspicions," that featured a mother trying to determine who had eaten her beloved Milano cookies. The effort introduced the tagline, "Treasure was meant to be discovered."
The marketer also extended its strategy of emphasizing adult indulgence to the American Collection, which was rechristened the Chocolate Chunk Cookie Classic line and supported by TV spots that promised "Satisfaction is just one bite away."
In January 1999, the marketer moved its account to Young & Rubicam.
In January 2002, Pepperidge Farm kicked off its first national tour, dubbed the "Miles of Smiles Tour," to promote Goldfish crackers, Milano cookies and its Swirl breads in 21 cities. Highlights included a 22-foot-tall rolling goldfish. In July 2003, the company introduced a line of Mini Cookies to cater to the need for portability.
To appeal to the growing health trend, Pepperidge Farm in March 2004 launched a line of trans-fat-free Goldfish Crisps backed by a $10 million push from Y&R that featured popular TV personality Carson Kressley from the TV show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." The unit also said it would remove the trans fat from its regular Pepperidge Farm Goldfish by September 2004.