Tavolo's $12 mil campaign features specialty food line

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Tavolo, formerly Digital Chef, has become one of the few pure Internet play e-commerce sites to launch a line of proprietary products.

The new line includes spices, dried beans, salad dressings and sauces. While Tavolo, also sells kitchenware, it does not bear the Tavolo brand.

Tavolo which means table in Italian, last week launched its first advertising--an offline-heavy campaign tagged "Specialty food. Kitchenware. Innovation."

The estimated $12 million effort, by Grant, Scott & Hurley, San Francisco, broke on cable TV such as the Food Network, Lifetime Television and the Discovery Channel and moves to spot TV later this year.

TV is a medium "that lets you tell a richer story," said Tavolo CEO Kevin Appelbaum.


Each spot uses quirky music and shows the preparation of food.

In one, a couple makes their famous hamburger. "Way under 32 billion sold," an on-screen sign reads. In another, a group prepares a seafood dinner with the caution that, while eating together brings people closer, "Go easy on the garlic." In a third, featuring a piece that sounds aria-like, a woman decorates an elaborate multilayer cake.

Print ads break later this month in cooking magazines including Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur and Travel & Leisure. The spread opens with an empty plate and the headline: "Here's your canvas. Do you have all of your paints and brushes?" The rest is cataloglike designs to illustrate the uses of spices.


"We view the print ad as our storefront," said Grant Richards, co-creative director at Grant. The agency took a straightforward approach to the advertising since "everybody in the Internet world is trying to out-funny each other."

Online banners will run on Yahoo! and America Online sites.

Tavolo estimates Americans spend some $15 billion a year on kitchenware products, and will spend another $40 billion on gourmet food products this year and more than $50 billion next year.

In the short history of the Internet, cooking has played a surprisingly prominent role.

Lipton's Ragu, www.eat.com and www.ragu.com, with its Mama Cucina character, was the toast of the early days of cyberspace for visitors' ability to learn some Italian and find recipes and coupons.

CondeNet's Epicurious.com, with its advice on everything from table manners to travel, this fall will spend more than $10 million on a TV, print, radio, outdoor and online campaign via Margeo-

tes/Fertitta & Partners, New York.


More recently, Williams-Sonoma got into the Internet race with a bridal registry, expected to be followed in time for the holiday season with an e-commerce Web site, reportedly with a system that connects inventory among stores and the Web.

Amid the myriad of competitors is Crate & Barrel, with an online wedding registry and plans to sell kitchenware, QVC's The Knot and Della & James, a gift registry that allows viewing of multiple partner sites.

Others competing for the cook's Web time and pocketbook include traditional department stores, magazine sites and numerous specialty food purveyors.

Like drug sites teaming with medical personnel to provide service--Walgreen Co. recently signed up with the Mayo Clinic--some of the cooking Web sites are teaming with cooking schools. Tavolo has signed on as exclusive partner with the Culinary Institute of America in California's Napa Valley.

For those who don't like to cook or have trouble boiling water, the Web has lots of sites that will send food to the doorstep.

Copyright August 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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