From the NY Times:
THE typical habitat for the Vlasic brand character, the stork, is of course in the pickle aisle, where he perches on the labels of kosher dills and sweet gherkins. But Monday he began migrating to other sections of supermarkets, too.
One of Vlasic’s in-store ads. Marketing to shoppers is expected to increase in the next few years, according to one survey.Shoppers picking up ground beef, for example, encounter the stork on in-store shelf ads near the meat section, where a speech balloon near his ample beak says, “Pro tip: Serve your burgers with a Vlasic pickle. Amateur tip: Don’t.” In another ad near the hamburger buns, he says, “Having a cookout? I suggest Vlasic pickles. Not having a cookout? Same suggestion.” And on an ad on shopping carts, he says, “Can a burger be considered perfect without a Vlasic pickle? Short answer: No. Long answer: Noooooooooooo.”
The in-store ads are a primary focus of a new campaign for the brand by BBDO New York, part of the BBDO Worldwide division of the Omnicom Group.
About 80 percent of pickles consumed in American homes accompany a hamburger or other sandwich, but only 3 percent of all sandwiches consumed are served with pickles, according to marketing research by the brand.
“Pickles are one of those things that everyone kind of has a jar in their refrigerator behind the milk and orange juice, and I think the biggest thing is just people forgetting about pickles,” said Tim Bayne, a senior vice president and creative director at BBDO.
The best time to remind people about pickles, Mr. Bayne continued, is during barbecue season, when pickle consumption is highest — but not as high as Vlasic would like.
“When people are shopping for a barbecue, attack them in the meat aisle where they’re buying ground beef or attack them in the bread aisle where they’re buying buns,” Mr. Bayne said of the approach, which also includes ads in the cheese section. (“On burgers, any kind of cheese will do. But any kind of pickle won’t.”)
Along with shelves and grocery carts, vinyl ads also will appear on supermarket floors, while displays near the pickles themselves will dispense coupons and recipes.
Vlasic, a brand of the Pinnacle Foods Group, spent $7.9 million on advertising in 2009 and $8.4 million in 2010, according to the Kantar Media unit of WPP. Eric Hintz, vice president for marketing at Pinnacle, declined to reveal the exact cost of the new campaign, but said marketing expenditures in 2011 would increase by double digits over last year.
Shopper marketing, which takes place primarily in stores through efforts like fanciful end-aisle displays, coupon distribution and product sampling, now increasingly includes efforts to influence consumers when they are compiling lists online or with smartphone grocery-list apps.
According to a recent survey by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Booz & Company, a management consulting firm, 55 percent of brands plan to increase spending on shopper marketing by more then 5 percent annually over the next three years, which is more than those intending to increase spending on social media (52 percent), Internet advertising (41 percent), print media (14 percent) or television (7 percent).
During the economic downturn, shoppers have become increasingly likely to use a shopping list, with 64 percent compiling lists, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a market research firm. But while shoppers may use a list to set budgetary boundaries, they are not immune to in-store entreaties from brands. Among list-makers, only 14 percent list specific brands to buy, compared with 45 percent who just list categories, like coffee or toothpaste.
“The recession has honed everyone’s skills” and shoppers have become more deliberate, said Jim Lucas, executive vice president for global retail insight and strategy at DraftFCB in Chicago, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies. What shoppers, who these days also are dining more frequently at home, often put on lists are center plate items like, say, a chicken breast or a steak, and they then may be open to suggestions for recipes and side dishes, Mr. Lucas said.
For example, to promote its soy and teriyaki sauces, Kikkoman, a DraftFCB client, dispenses recipes for marinades (and coupons) from a shelf display in the meat section during grilling season and places turkey brining recipes in the poultry section before Thanksgiving.
Condiments like soy sauce, as well as pickles, often are in center aisles in supermarkets, where only about 20 percent of shoppers tend to turn, compared with about 60 percent who cruise the produce or deli aisles on the perimeter, said Mr. Lucas. The object of in-store promotions is “to drive more aisle turn-in,” he said.
In an in-store Valentine’s Day promotion to encourage using M&M’s in recipes, the Mars brand recently placed displays in the bakery aisle at supermarkets with cupcake recipes featuring the candies. Like Vlasic, the campaign was handled by BBDO New York.
Along with in-store advertising, which will run through September, the new Vlasic campaign includes recent ads in print magazines including People and Dash, and on Web sites including FoodNetwork.com and AllRecipes.com. Those ads also will feature the stork declaring that hamburgers are incomplete without pickles, along with a new tagline for the brand, “Bring on the bite.”
That slogan is meant to refer not just to the crunchiness of the pickles, but also to the character of the stork, which first appeared in television commercials in 1974 and was modeled largely after Groucho Marx (“Vlasic is the best tasting pickle I ever hoid.”), with the character holding the pickle as if it were a cigar.
“The voice has a bite to it, and that’s what our campaign is all about,” said Mr. Bayne, of BBDO.