Healthy Choice Casts TV Stars

ConAgra Foods has expanded its Healthy Choice line with 11 fresh varieties, and to promote the products, the food giant is running a TV push starring actresses Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld) and Jane Lynch (Glee).

The new varieties include Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean and Lemon Garlic Chicken & Shrimp under the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers brand; Tortellini Primavera Parmesan, Lobster Cheese Ravioli and Creamy Basil Pesto under the All Natural Entrees line; and Chicken Pad Thai, under the Asian-inspired Cafe Steamers line. Select Entrees, another sub-brand, will also carry new varieties including Pineapple Chicken, Ravioli Florentine Marinara and Spicy Caribbean Chicken.

In addition to the TV effort, ConAgra is supporting the launch with print — running in consumer books this month — and online ads, including various plugs for the entrees in its newly launched “What’s So Funny?” branded entertainment channel, in partnership with Yahoo.

Print ads, such as the one for the Asian Cafe Steamers, target consumers seeking both health and convenience. The entree is “made with the best olive oil, whole grain noodles and a perfect blend of ginger, garlic and curry so you know that it doesn’t just taste good. It’s good for you,” the ad copy says.

“We know our consumer is constantly searching for foods that fuel [their] healthy lifestyle and deliver the freshness and flavor she craves.  Given how well our innovations meet and exceed her expectations, extending Café Steamers into [cuisines like] Mediterranean-inspired [meals] makes sense for us,” said Carlos Veraza, vp and general manager of the frozen division at ConAgra Foods.

Sapient Nitro handles creative duties, while Bridge Worldwide, Mediacom, GW Hoffman and Ketchum managed digital, media buying, consumer promotions/PR and social media, respectively.

ConAgra Foods’ ad spending on the Healthy Choice line dropped from $16 million in 2008 to $7 million through the first 11 months of last year, excluding online, per Nielsen.