Magazines reap Thanksgiving harvest of ads

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With Thanksgiving approaching, many food marketers that advertise minimally the rest of the year are now making their annual pilgrimage to the pages of women's service magazines.

For many publishing executives, it means two November feasts--one at work and the other at home. Last year, food category ad pages rose to 865 in November, up 21% in the span of a month, according to Publishers Information Bureau.


Of course, consumption also rises significantly in November for many traditional Thanksgiving foods. For example, about 30% of all whipped cream sales occur during November and December, said Betsy Trimble, account supervisor at Cramer-Krasselt, Milwaukee, agency for Beatrice Cheese's Reddi-wip topping. And Thanksgiving records the biggest sales gain of the year.

Ms. Trimble said Reddi-wip--which spent $1.1 million in 1995 on media advertising, according to Competitive Media Reporting--is concentrating this year on print ads including recipes, themed to the holidays in the fall and during berry season in the summer. The campaign running in November women's books shows the familiar red can jauntily topped with a pilgrim's hat.

Rival Kraft Foods' Cool Whip is countering with its own print recipe campaign linked with sister brands Jell-O instant pudding and Philadelphia cream cheese. Themed "A Thanksgiving treat so good it flies," the recipe for double layer pumpkin pie is carried in an ad created by Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago.


For Jell-O, the company is also running a campaign from Young & Rubicam, New York, featuring its ubiquitous holiday molded gelatin. The ad is for Cranberry Jell-O, a flavor introduced in 1995. Last year, Cranberry Jell-O sold 15% of its volume for the year during Thanksgiving.

Another staple on an anticipated 35 million Thanksgiving tables this year is the green bean bake, according to Campbell Soup Co., which is running a print ad with a recipe for the casserole topped with fried on-ions. The campaign from BBDO Worldwide is themed "Bring a family favorite back to the table this Thanksgiving," but with one untraditional twist--the recipe this year offers a choice of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup as an ingredient or the company's new 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom.

Curtice-Burns Foods' Comstock pie filling is once again in November books with a recipe for cranberry apple tart, via Eric Mower & Associates, Rochester, N.Y. The theme line is "Razzle dazzle without the frazzle."

Pastry and pie filling as a category jumped 272% in sales at Thanksgiving time last year, vs. the previous month, Information Resources Inc. said. For the four weeks ended Dec. 3, sales were $39.3 million.

Likewise, frozen pie sales shot up 125% for the same four-week period, to $56.9 million.

But the centerpiece of many Thanksgiving tables is ConAgra's Swift Butterball turkey, which is using print, radio and the Internet this year. The magazine ad is themed "Always juicy. Always tender. Always Butterball."

Grey Advertising, New York, handles the campaign. Butterball spent $2.9 million in measured media for whole turkeys last year.


Beyond the company's Turkey Talk Line, with home economists and nutritionists giving advice during November and December, Butterball for a second year will take to the Internet. The year-round Web site. gives consumers a direct link to the talk-line advisers for the holidays, and offers recipes and tips on how to prepare for Thanksgiving and the inevitable leftovers.

With all this food advertising--and consumption--during November, it would also seem inevitable that liquid and powder antacid sales would jump. Last year, they were up 5.4% during the four weeks ended Dec. 3, vs. the previous month, according to IRI, to $17.4 million.

Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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