Pillsbury makes a play for brand awareness, trying to fight off generics

Pillsbury is launching its first major branding campaign since 2001, trying to stave off not just competition from other major brands, but a resurgence of budget-conscious shoppers buying generic brands -- and, heaven forbid say the corporate honchos, baking goodies and bread from scratch.

The "Home is Calling" campaign is meant to be soothing and evocative of old-fashioned family values of people sitting around a table eating together and enjoying the simple things in life. In the first video spot on Pillsbury site, a bunch of busy, harried, cold people make their way home to a warm house and warm crescent rolls coming out of the oven, and the Pillsbury dough boy peeking out from behind a corner like a little fairy dough-mother who makes this all possible.
The campaign is necessary because shoppers are changing their habits very rapidly as food costs rise dramatically. If companies like Pillsbury are going to keep customer buying things like Crescent rolls and ready-made cookies, they're going to have to strike up an extremely strong brand awareness, much stronger than before. Because it's not going to take much more than a few cents of price difference for consumers to grab a cheaper brand. And if prices rise too high, we'll start to see a lot more people opting for cooking from scratch rather than buying pre-made items.

A new study from Information Resources Inc. shows that consumers don't necessarily want to cut back on quantity or quality of their meals -- especially for the holidays -- so the easiest place to make some cuts is to buy cheaper brands (with the assumption that doing so doesn't compromise quality, which is most often the case). The study indicated that 51% of those polled were planning on using private-label products for their holiday meals, up from 30% to 35% most other years. The study predicts that Wal-Mart and Costco house brands will be the big winners of this trend.

A New Look for Old Brands

    What Changed: Pillsbury is going for more soothing tones in these tough economic times with its first re-branding campaign in years. The Pillsbury Dough Boy is still around, but the focus is on happy families gathering around a table of tasty food.

    Paul Sakuma, AP

    What changed: Little girls have been inundated with Disney princess paraphernalia for years now, and the line has been so popular that the company wants to try to do the same thing with fairies. Tinker Bell, a mere side character in J.M. Barrie

    AP | Disney

    What changed: Pepsi has unveiled its fifth new logo in 2 decades, right, as part of a new plan to redefine itself as a cultural leader. The redesigned Pepsi packages should hit store shelves early next year. Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist drinks will also get a new look.

    AP / Pepsico

    What changed: For the first time, Long John Silver's will be offering its first non-fried items. The Freshside Grille selections includePacific Salmon (pictured), Shrimp Scampi and Tilapia.

    YUM! / AP

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    What changed: Popeye's is sporting a new look with an orange and red logo with the words "Louisiana Kitchen" set off by fleur-de-lis designs and a giant "P" in the middle


    What changed: Chex Party Mix, invented in 1955, will get a makeover with new recipes, new packaging and a new spokeschef, Katie Lee Joel, (pictured in the center, with Suzanne M. Grimes, president, Food & Entertaining at Readers Digest on the right and Cheri Olerud, senior cookbook editor and test kitchen expert for Chex cereal on the left.

    Business Wire

    What changed: The venerable crock pot, long a staple of the American kitchen, is trying to become the ultimate multi-tasker for the contemporary two-income family that wants to eat healthy. Crock Pot

    Crock-Pot | Hughes Design Group

    What changed: The 400-location hotel worldwide hotel chain is in the middle of a $1.7 billion project to renovate about half its U.S. hotels. The new look includes brighter colors in the room, with pillowtop beds and white duvets and flat-screen TVs. Sheraton is rolling out a branded line of toiletries, called Shine by Bliss, and fitness centers will get upgrades. Lobbies will feature restaurants, most with a casual dining chain called Relish, and cafes with Internet stations. Some locations may also have a steakhouse developed by Shula


    What changed: Now owned by Stride Rite, which re-acquired the rights to the sneaker brand from hip-hop mogul Damon Dash (a recent foreclosure victim), PRO-Keds are going to get a makeover as they come back into the fold. Stride Rite will focus on classic styles, such as the


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