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Open any April TV guide and there's a listing for "America's Choice," the same name as Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.'s private-label brand.

The listing isn't for an infomercial but for a variety show celebrating A&P's 135th anniversary. During the show, A&P will promote consolidation of in-store brands under the America's Choice label with a $1 million-plus TV campaign, already airing locally.

Sponsorship of a TV show is a novel approach to promoting store brands. And any TV campaign, let alone a nationally syndicated one, is a first for store brands (AA, Feb. 14). A&P's is being handled by Sillery Mayer Skurnick, Stamford, Conn.

"We wanted this [show] to be the focal point for our anniversary celebration, as well as the introduction of our quality low-price in-house brand," said Michael Rourke, senior VP-communications and corporate affairs.

"America's Choice: A Salute to A&P's 135th Anniversary" is even getting some big brand-name marketers as co-sponsors. They include Coca-Cola Co., Kraft General Foods, Thomas J. Lipton Co., McCormick & Co., Western Union and Nabisco Brands.

Kraft General Foods is running two spots for Jell-O snacks. Director of Communications Patrick Farrell said that though A&P has no comparable product, "We advertise against competitors all the time" and KGF views the special no differently than any other.

Robert Springer, senior director of advertising for Nabisco Foods Group, said the variety show presented an "opportunity that stood on its own merits in terms of a media buy, price, content and programming. It just so happens that A&P is a good customer of ours."

He said Nabisco and America's Choice have comparable but not competing products.

"Private label really doesn't compete with us as the cookie and crackers category leader," Mr. Springer said, citing market share gains by both Nabisco and private label.

Lloyd Gaynes of Gaynes Productions, Hollywood, produced the special in cooperation with Foote, Cone & Belding, New York. The show is to air throughout April on network affiliates and independent stations in 50 U.S. markets.

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