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The 'Fix' Is In at Stouffer's

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Nestle is linking family dinnertime with healthy relationships in a new TV and Web push for its Stouffer’s brand.

Now in its second year, the “Let’s fix dinner” challenge encourages parents to eat more Stouffer’s meals with their children. The move comes as consumers spend more time at home and turn to frozen and shelf-stable meals in a tough economy.

TV spots, via the New York office of JWT, recently launched. One shows the benefits of a family meal. “Can you give your daughter a better body image by setting the table? Could placemats help keep your kids off drugs? Are your kids more likely to talk when their mouths are full? What can more dinners together do for your family?” the voiceover asks.

U.S. consumption of frozen meals dropped slightly from 2008 to 2009 (12.7 to 12.2 percent), but the convenience-oriented staple remains one of the top dishes consumed by Americans, per NPD Group. According to the market research firm, consumption of frozen entrees in the U.S. increased by 14 percent from 1984 to 2009.

As part of the ongoing campaign, Stouffer’s has partnered with the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. The program’s premise is based on the insight that children who hail from families that routinely eat dinner together are “less likely to smoke, drink or use drugs.”

Last year, Nestle recruited mommy bloggers and introduced them to Stouffer’s-branded meals. This year, however, the packaged-goods brand -- a major player in the frozen-foods category, alongside brands like Heinz’s Smart Ones and ConAgra Food’s Healthy Choice -- has extended the campaign to include an online component where consumers can track the dinnertime routines of five families.

Nestle, which also makes Lean Cuisine, is encouraging consumers to get into their own routine via a daily log at www.letsfixdinner.com. “We are passionate about promoting the power of the dinner table to create short- and long-term benefits for families,” said Stouffer’s marketing director Brett White in a statement.

The company spent $71 million advertising its Stouffer’s products in 2008, and $59 million through the first 11 months of last year, excluding online, per Nielsen.