Hormel touts romance of Italian olive oil brand

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Hormel Foods Corp. wants to stir up the olive oil category with a $13 million ad infusion backing its introduction of leading Italian olive oil brand Carapelli to the U.S.

Together with Paris-based joint venture partner Eridania Beghin-Say, which owns Tuscany-based Carapelli, Hormel wants to expand the undermarketed yet growing olive oil market. Central to its effort is an extensive TV and print campaign starting in June that will focus on Carapelli as a lifestyle choice and educate consumers on different oils for different uses.

The tagline for the effort, from BBDO Worldwide, Minneapolis, is "The passion comes pouring out."


The theme is an attempt to give consumers the sense that Carapelli offers more than just a chance to cook with olive oil; it also offers an authentic Italian experience, said Larry Vorpahl, president of Carapelli USA and VP-marketing for Hormel.

"We found that consumers connect emotionally with this category more than others," he said.

The creative for the campaign, still in development, will mirror the romantic lifestyle settings painted on packaging labels for the Carapelli line, and some executions also will expand on the usage suggestions flagged on the labels. For example, banners on the packages tout Premium Extra Virgin as best for flavoring and dipping and Light as best for sauteeing and baking. The line also includes Extra Virgin and Mild varieties.

The $13 million campaign for Carapelli exceeds the media expenditures for the entire olive oil category last year, which in 1999 totaled only $8.5 million, according to Hormel sales materials. Despite the limited media outlay, however, the category still grew 1% to $343 million for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 27, according to Information Resources Inc.


"For a category this size, ad expenditures have been relatively low, and by educating consumers and telling them what olive oil is and how it can be used, we think the category will explode," Mr. Vorpahl said.

Sales for Bertolli USA, the leader in the olive oil category with a 20% share for its eponymous brand, rose 3.3% to $112 million, while Salov's Filippo Berio fell 11.6% to $60 million. Private label sales grew 14.7% to $35 million for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 27, IRI said.


Carapelli's ads will be targeted at existing olive oil users -- typically upscale, well-educated consumers who enjoy cooking -- through print ads in publications including the new O The Oprah Winfrey Magazine, and on cable networks such as the Food Network.

Sponsorships and special events also will support the rollout of Carapelli, as will newspaper inserts and in-store coupon machines.

Hormel's foray into the olive oil category follows the company's ongoing strategy to build ethnic brands, among them Mexican lines under the Chi-Chi's, Herdez and El Torito labels, Mediterranean fare under the Marrakesh Express and Peloponnese banners and Indian foods under the Patak's brand. Hormel spent $50 million in media in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

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