FCB’s National TV Relaunches Mrs. Paul’s

NEW YORK Aurora Foods’ flagship frozen brands, including Mrs. Paul’s, Aunt Jemima and Lender’s Bagels, were on the brink of bankruptcy when Pinnacle Foods bought the company earlier this year. Now, Mrs. Paul’s seafood will see its first national TV effort in two years with a media budget in excess of $15 million.

Four 30-second spots, via Foote Cone & Belding, New York, will break starting this week. Tagged “Get comfortable with fish,” creative will air on network, cable and syndication, addressing consumer concerns about fish. “Consumers said that unlike chicken or steak, they feel ‘uncomfortable’ about fish since it’s so delicate,” said Mel Sokotch, FCB evp. “The new ads [deal with that] in a humorous, edgy way to suggest Mrs. Paul’s is the solution.”

Spots feature a four-foot long, electronically driven fish puppet, which appears in unlikely scenarios—at the park, on a racquetball court—talking to people who are stunned and surprised as they back away. A voiceover asks, “Uncomfortable around fish? Try Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. Always made from home filets. Get comfortable with fish.”

Mrs. Paul’s garnered a mere $300,000 in advertising support last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Sales were down 15.9 percent to $142 million as the No. 6 brand at grocers, for the year ending Aug. 8, per IRI. Category leader Gorton’s sales were up 9 percent to $163 million.

“When we acquired Mrs. Paul’s, we knew we had a business with great strengths but even greater potential,” said Rick Klauser, vp, frozen seafood. “This is a major relaunch.”

Klauser added that Mrs. Paul’s has been reformulated and will launch new SKUs this year. The budget is part of an overall marketing commitment of $85 million that Pinnacle is putting behind the frozen brands it acquired from Aurora.