Del Monte Bows ‘Fruit Undressed’

NEW YORK Del Monte Foods is spending more than $20 million on a new online and print campaign in an effort to undress its fruit.

Suitably tagged as “Fruit Undressed,” the campaign is a bold move for the San Francisco-based client, which typically spends less than $5 million advertising its refrigerated fruit business. In 2007, the maker of 9Lives and Meow Mix spent $16 million in measured media (excluding online), and $11 million through September of this year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Rodolfo Spielmann, vp, consumer growth at Del Monte Foods, said the increased ad spending comes as the brand tries to extend its household penetration. “Not a lot of consumers know about us, but those who do really like [the brand],” he said. “[So] we needed to offer something that no one else in the category can offer: terrific taste and a year-round product.”

The ads, which include Flash and rich media banners on sites like Realsimple.com and People.com, show lush, vibrant fruits peeled and sliced. To promote its new red grapefruit bowls, the company tapped Smith Brothers Agency, Pittsburgh, to design online and print ads. Another ad for the Fruit Naturals line shows a pear cheekily asking, “Does this skin make my butt look big?” A mango, meanwhile, unveils “the Full Monty” by taking off its skin.

Del Monte’s refrigerated fruit is currently available in four varieties: Citrus bowls, which launched in September; Fruit Naturals, which come in plastic cups; and SunFresh and Orchard Select fruit jars.

While Del Monte, has kept a relatively low profile with its refrigerated fruit business, it’s now flexing its marketing muscles. “We have more commitment behind this category. You will see more ideas and more innovations,” Spielmann said.

Jim Wisner, who heads up the Wisner Marketing Group, said while prepared and cut fruits have been around for some time, this is the first coordinated approach to really go after the consumer. “They’ve really put the product in a different context,” he said.

Del Monte is also rolling out a new line of 8-oz. fruit cups filled with antioxidants, acai and passion fruit juices. Called SuperFruit, the products include pear chunks in acai blackberry juice and mixed fruit chunks in mango passion fruit juice. The campaign for SuperFruit will debut in January with a mix of online and print support.