Kraft makes bigger better

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When kraft foods swallowed up Nabisco, some indigestion was to be expected as Kraft, North America's largest food company, worked to meld the power of enormous brand franchises. A scant seven months later, Kraft is proving its skill at synergy with a joint back-to-school mega-promotion across an astounding 25 kids' brands.

Executing a national program linking Kraft's impressive roster of kid-targeted brands with Nabisco's heavyweights could easily have been a logistical and political nightmare. Instead, marketers at Kraft have deftly pulled off an integrated effort that marries Kraft's long-term Nickelodeon relationship with the in-store might of Nabisco's "Cool School Bus." The result: a cohesive marketing assault that encompasses everything from a sweepstakes on 120 million packages to a TV and print effort and-thanks to Nabisco's direct-store delivery prowess-in-store displays in 20,000 stores.

Moreover, the back-to-school ad push is a joint effort rather than a string of individual ads for participating brands (adroitly juggled by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote Cone & Belding Worldwide, New York).

Kraft for years has delivered huge, kid-pleasing promos backed by a roster of brands such as Jell-O, Kool-Aid and Oscar Mayer Lunchables. Add to that the promotional wallop of Oreo, Chips Ahoy! and Ritz crackers, and you've got a brand stable that can easily support the trio of gargantuan promotions Kraft plans to run each year.

Fresh from its initial public offering, Kraft well knows the importance of delivering on financials and objectives. It is also probably the smartest package-goods marketer out there when it comes to leveraging the power of leading brands (it has said it will reap $100 million in cost synergies this year resulting from the integration of Nabisco). Philip Morris Cos., having first consumed General Foods Corp. and then Kraft, is well-schooled in the strategies needed to make Nabisco's $18.9 billion price tag pay off-one smartly executed and synergistic promotion at a time.

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