Jimmy Dean Moves Beyond Breakfast in New Ads

Campaign from TBWA\C\D features lunch, dinner items

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Tyson-owned brand Jimmy Dean is moving beyond breakfast with a campaign introducing a new line of products designed for lunch and dinner.

There are sixteen new products in all, including a pulled pork sandwich, bacon macaroni and cheese, and new sandwiches under the Delights sub-brand, which offers options with 300 or fewer calories. Until now, Jimmy Dean Delights had been the brand's most significant product extension.

Jimmy Dean began in 1969 as a breakfast sausage company led by the country singer of same name. Dean remained a spokesman following the company's sale to Sara Lee in 1984 and, in the 1980s, the brand saw its first extension, as it took on breakfast sandwiches. Dean was finally replaced in 2003 with a sun-costume character developed by lead creative agency TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif. Both the agency and character have remained with the brand since.

Brand extensions are tricky, and Jimmy Dean's move poses additional risks. While frozen breakfast items have been on the rise—according to market data firm IRI, sales of breakfast sandwiches and burritos have risen 6.7 percent, while frozen breakfast entrees have risen 5 percent, in the 52-week period ending Aug. 10—frozen meals in general have been on the decline. In the same period, sales of single-serve frozen entrees have declined 4.1 percent.

Jimmy Dean currently dominates the frozen breakfast category, with 52.8 percent of the "hand-held breakfast" market and 35.8 percent of the breakfast entree segment, again according to IRI. But there's no clear indication that the brand can carry that success into the sagging instant lunch and dinner categories, and Jimmy Dean risks diluting its brand in the process.

"Line extensions are always riskier than they look because you think that the worst outcome is that the extension will fail, but the worst outcome actually is that it hurts the underlying brand," Accidental Branding author David Vinjamuri told The New York Times. "Brands are successful because they’ve become expert at something, but line extensions can dilute that expertise."

In the new campaign, the sun-costumed man tries to convince unhappy consumers that there's a better option for lunch. In "Food Court," for example, he introduces women dissapointed with their bland-looking salads to Jimmy Dean Delight's new lunch sandwiches.

A second ad is titled, "Deli."

Vinjamuri, for one, was critical of the attempt. "The immediate metaphor you get about the sun is that it’s about waking up and starting your day with the sun coming up, but I have no idea what it has to do with lunch or dinner," he told the Times.

Brent Anderson, executive creative director at TBWA\C\D in Playa del Rey, defended the decision, however, telling the Times that the sun also stands for "qualities like optimism and positivity beyond breakfast."

"The sun character has been extremely effective, and consumers just have a very strong affinity for him," Anderson added. "We did ask ourselves if there would be any potential of misunderstanding or diluting the message, but it just felt like such a natural evolution for the sun to keep shining all day long, and to go from owning morning to owning noon and owning night as well."


@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.