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Planters PB Effort Reflects Kraft's New 'Aggressiveness'

The launch campaign for Planters Peanut Butter reflects Kraft Foods' shift from a "risk-averse, conventional advertiser" to a more aggressive, innovative advertising and growth approach, observes Sanford C. Berstein & Co. analyst Alexia Howard, in a Bloomberg.com piece.

The campaign features "Peanut Butter Doug," a character resembling the brand's iconic Mr. Peanut, but with an edgier look that includes a goatee and aviator sunglasses. Doug's overconfidence leads him to engage in death-defying feats that inevitably end up in his being crushed into Planters Peanut Butter.

The Planters Peanut Butter launch (perhaps, notes Bloomberg, the "most overdue brand extension in history") targets adults rather than just moms and kids (the targets of most brands), reflecting that adults account for two-thirds of the $1.8 billion in annual U.S. peanut butter sales, Kraft senior director of marketing Triona Schmelter said. 

Kraft has "shaken up" its traditional advertising/marketing approach in order to boost its grocery business, which has been "neglected for years," said analyst Howard. 

Kraft's grocery and snacks businesses will become separate entities after the company splits later this year. And while Kraft's grocery sales grew by nearly 5% in North America last year, that was largely due to price hikes reflecting input cost inflation.

Planters, with new agency Planters at Being (a TBWA Worldwide spinoff), began reviving the brand on the snacks front in 2010, providing a more engaging, speaking persona for Mr. Peanut in the brand's advertising.

Since its launch last June, Planters Peanut Butter has risen to sixth in U.S. market share, behind leader Jif, J.M. Smucker butters, private-label butters, Skippy and Peter Pan. And Planters' share so far this year has risen from 1.8% in 2011 to "mid single digits," Schmelter reported. 

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