Veggie Burgers Target Mainstream Audience With Seinfeld Finale Included In First TV Buy

Wholesome & Hearty Foods hopes an appearance before the millions expected to watch the final episode of Seinfeld will push its Gardenburgers into the grocery carts of more mainstream, meat-eating consumers.
Hal Riney & Partners/Heartland here is putting the finishing touches on the first TV campaign for the Portland, Ore.-based purveyor of vegetable patties.
Riney executives declined to reveal exactly how much the agency paid for the 30-second slot on the May 14 episode of Seinfeld, where the going rate is reportedly as much as $1.8 million. That slot is part of a larger buy on NBC by Wholesome & Hearty and Riney, beginning May 4.
The three-spot campaign will feature animated characters introduced last June in print ads, Riney’s first work for the company. The agency had won the account eight months earlier, following a review.
The tagline for both the TV and print work is, “Eating good just got great.” Wholesome & Hearty said it will make an extensive media buy on network and cable TV. The company spent $4 million on advertising from January through November of 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
“Their mission is to take a quirky product and take it mainstream,” said Bill Marks, director of account services at Riney. “The evidence suggests that it’s time to jump into the mainstream.”
Wholesome & Hearty’s efforts to expand the market for its meatless burgers beyond vegetarians and health-food eaters were boosted late last year when Denny’s restaurants placed Green Giant’s Harvest Burgers on its menu, Marks said.
Gardenburger’s $12.7 million in domestic supermarket sales ranks second in the fast-growing category to Harvest Burger’s $21.8 million for the 52 weeks ending Feb. 2, according to data from Information Resources.