Cream of Wheat, Ortega Return

NEW YORK With the Olympics still fresh on everyone’s mind, B&G Foods is using the opportunity to launch new TV spots today and shine some spotlight on two of its lesser known brands: Cream of Wheat and Ortega.

In both cases, B&G Foods’ TV spots will feature stars from this year’s Games, similar to what Kellogg has done with gold medalist Michael Phelps. The spot for Ortega will debut during tonight’s 2008 Tour of Gymnastics Superstars, airing on My Network TV. B&G Foods, Parsippany, N.J., created four one-minute commercials to be broadcast during the program. The brand also has sponsored three Olympians — twin stars Paul and Morgan Hamm and this year’s women’s balance beam gold medalist Shawn Johnson — in upcoming Internet, TV and in-store ads.

Meanwhile, Cream of Wheat is a sponsor for ABC’s Frosted Pink with a Twist program, airing on Oct. 12. The two-hour ABC special pairs this year’s Olympic gymnasts with popular music icons, and is intended to raise awareness of cancers affecting women. U.S. gold medal winners Shannon Miller and Amanda Borden will appear on TV, in-store signage and coupons on behalf of the brand.

A Cream of Wheat spot featuring the two Olympians already started airing on B&G Foods’ web site. It opens with a sportscaster headlining the achievements of Miller and Borden at the 1996 Olympics. “What’s for breakfast?” Miller asks, walking into the kitchen. “Good old Cream of Wheat,” Borden replies, putting two bowls on the table. “Speaking of the good old days, Cream of Wheat sure brings back memories.” “Yeah, warm memories,” Borden says. “Cream of Wheat. Smooth and creamy goodness and an excellent source of iron and calcium.” Tagline: “The Cream of the crop.”

For Alberto Soricelli, evp, marketing at B&G Foods, the tie-in makes perfect sense. “The Olympics have all the family values and positive equities we want associated with our brand,” he said. “With Ortega, the whole idea of family entertainment and fun is something very important to the brand.”

The effort marks the first big advertising push for the brands since B&G Foods acquired Cream of Wheat from Kraft in 2007, and Ortega from Nestle in 2005. Soricelli said the initiative marks phase two of the company’s plan to bring these two brands back to consumers’ pantry shelves, as both brands were on a steep sales decline by the time they changed hands.

While linking the two brands to the Olympics may give them a sales boost, Denise Lee Yohn, a brand consultant in San Diego, said she isn’t so sure the strategy works. “I think they would have been better served by pursuing a wholesome, natural positioning instead,” Yohn said.

B&G Foods spent $300,000 advertising both brands through July of this year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.