Progresso Soup Feeds 'Biggest Loser'

Biggest-LoserGeneral Mills will use NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” as a platform to back its Progresso soup next year, maintaining its ties to the reality-competition show. But the company is continuing with plans to rein in media spending, while increasing investment behind in-store promotions.
 
“The Biggest Loser’s” new season, which starts Jan. 6, will be marked by trainer Jillian Michaels rejoining and teens participating, for the first time, to highlight the childhood obesity problem. Progresso’s involvement will include product placement in an episode.
 
Ian Friendly, General Mills COO of the U.S. retail business, said the company also has a partnership coming with Weight Watchers for the Progresso brand’s “light” soup line.
 
Overall, the company has been increasing investment in Progresso’s “taste-focused advertising,” Friendly said on an earnings call Dec. 19. Retail sales increased 7% in the first half of the fiscal year, while there was a slight bump in market share in the ready-to-serve segment.  
 
Friendly said fiscal-year marketing spending is “weighted toward in-store merchandising.” Advertising in the U.S. for the first half is “below strong year-ago levels,” he said. Media expense is expected to finish below last year’s amount.
 
“This is due, in part, to this year’s tactical shift on merchandising,” Friendly said. “It also reflects ongoing cost discipline, which helps us lower media expense, while maintaining very competitive media pressure against the consumer.”

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