Mott's gets grabby

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Buy it and it will grow. That could be the new motto for Mott's.

The Cadbury Schweppes unit has been on an acquisition tear, looking to buy businesses it can grow into market leaders in its core juice, sauce and cocktail mixer segments. Mott's is investing in advertising and innovation on the newly acquired marks even as it looks for new targets.

"[Cadbury Schweppes] and Mott's are in acquisition mode, looking for businesses with nice brand equity that are the market leaders in their niches," said Lesya Juchymenko, Mott's VP-marketing.

Total U.S. annual sales for Mott's were roughly $750 million last year, about half from juice and other beverages. Cadbury Schweppes' second-quarter report showed growth of 15% for its non-carbonated beverages. Mott's produced "excellent volume and profit results," according to a quarterly earnings report.

Hawaiian Punch, acquired by Cadbury from Procter & Gamble Co. in May 1999 for $203 million, saw particularly strong growth. Sales of Hawaiian Punch in its primary bottled fruit drink category grew 34.2% to $135 million for the 52 weeks ended July 15, according to Information Resources Inc. Mott's broke its first TV campaign for the brand last week. While sibling unit Dr Pepper/Seven Up handles the marketing of Hawaiian Punch in cans and liters, Mott's is in charge of the brand in the juice aisle.

The commercial, from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, reintroduces the brand's animated spokescharacter Punchy and carries two separate tags, one touting the flavors of the brand in the juice aisle and another introducing the new Hawaiian Punch pouch. The on-trend pouch, clear so kids can see the bright colors of the drink, will replace the current juice box variety. Dollar sales for the juice box versions of the brand have fallen 23.4%.

Mott's is also focusing on building the equity of the Mauna La'i brand it purchased last July with the expansion of its current two-market test of TV ads created by Omnicom Group's Moss Dragoti, New York. While previous media levels for the brand have been in the $1 million to $2 million range, Ms. Juchymenko said Mott's will be "spending much more aggressively."

Next up are the ReaLemon and ReaLime brands Mott's said last week it would acquire for $128 million from Eagle Family Foods. The brands hold a 48% share of the shelf-stable lemon and lime juice category, with $62 million in sales for the 52 weeks ended June 30, according to Eagle.

Mott's will focus on building ReaLime among Hispanic consumers. Sales for the company's Clamato has grown more than 20% among Hispanics since the launch last year of a targeted ad campaign from Dieste & Partners, Dallas.

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