Veggie Meets Convenience

Ragu Express is positioning itself to meet two of the largest trends impacting the food industry - snacking and teens. A couple of recent studies point to the logic of this move. The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill studied snack consumption among children 2-18 and found that the average daily energy intake from snacks among children and teenagers has risen from about 18% to roughly 25% in the past 20 years. Furthermore, these consumers are eating vegetarian, as evidenced by the “2000 Vegetarian Resource Group Roper Teen Poll” of children aged 8 to 17, which found approximately 2% of 8- to 12-year-olds say they do not eat meat, fish or poultry.

Many of these consumers, however, are making unhealthy choices, opting for snacks high in fat and sugar. Ragu Express, Unilever's line of ready to heat and eat pasta and sauce combinations, is positioned as an alternative to unhealthy snacks.

“Teens make their own choices, whether that be in the clothes they wear, the music they listen to or the shows they watch. That also applies to the foods they eat,” says Robyn Rothke, innovation brand manager with Unilever Bestfoods. “Each serving (of Ragu Express) offers busy teens the convenience, quality and energy-rich carbohydrates they need to power through their hectic schedules.”

Bouncing Back

In the 1990s, Sprite took a key role in Coca-Cola's overall growth and saw its share of the soft drink market grow strongly. With a new century came new challenges, and where consumers may once have embraced the “limon” drink's urge to “obey your thirst,” Sprite instead found its sales sliding.

That slide led to trouble for Coca-Cola, and experts note that rebuilding Sprite is now a “critical part of the company's strategy for next year.” Three main brands drive Coca-Cola sales in the U.S.—Coke Classic, Diet Coke and Sprite. The latter has seen its impact reduced, though, as U.S. sales of Sprite dropped 12.7 million cases (1.75%) in 2000, with 2001 results off as well.

Coke is combating Sprite's malaise. A new ad agency has joined Sprite, and Coke bottlers expect new product introductions in March or April.

In the Cards

General Mills' Box Tops for Education program has met with great success since launching in 1996. Since then, more than $50 million has been raised to help America's schools and, now, the company has expanded the program.

The new Box Tops for Education Marketplace offers consumers a gateway to over 100 online stores, including, Barnes&, and The company notes that up to 10% of qualifying purchases will be donated to the enrolled school of choice, up to $10,000 per school, per year.

Using the Box Tops Visa card, consumers can donate 1% of all purchases to a school of choice. Similar to the Marketplace, each school can earn up to $10,000, per year from cardholders' purchases.

These two new methods of contributing join General Mills' original Box Tops for Education program, which has consumers send box tops from more than 330 General Mills products. Furthermore, the additions to the program will boost the total possible contributions to $30,000 per school, per year.

Curve Ball

Procter & Gamble utilized an extensive, nationwide campaign to launch their first new snack food brand since Pringles Potato Crisps debuted in 1971. The recent effort included teasers and clues in movie theater trailers, newspapers and online, all asking sleuths to deduce the meaning of the word Torengos.

The guessing culminated at a Hollywood-style premiere, where Torengos made their debut as a new snack food. Torengos are described as triangular, white-corn tortilla chips, uniquely curved for serious dipping and stacked in a resealable, triangular canister to protect against breakage.

Pre-launch activities included trailer ads running prior to the movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” in select theaters in over 40 U.S. markets. The trailers featured a series of scrambled words that could only be deciphered using Torengos decoder glasses, which were distributed free to moviegoers. The spots pointed the audience to the web address for the new snacks.