Natural Foods Merchandiser

White Wave Launches Silk TV Campaign

Silk soymilk has gone primetime, launching a $22.3 million television advertising campaign that is the most expensive in the history of natural foods.

The campaign, announced April 26, is part of a $35 million marketing effort to move Silk into the mainstream. It includes a commercial on The Tonight Show following the May 6 finale of Friends. Other targeted shows include CSI and ER.

"By bringing soymilk ads to television, we are making a clear statement that there is no single niche big enough to contain Silk. Like Coca-Cola, Minute Maid or Starbucks coffee, Silk is a beverage that appeals to everyone," said Steve Demos, president of Boulder, Colo.-based White Wave, maker of Silk soymilk.

According to ACNielsen surveys, 11 percent of American households purchase Silk.

Silk is the only soymilk ever advertised on television. The four ads, which will run through September, feature actors exhibiting what White Wave refers to as "aspiration and fortitude" after eating Silk-fueled breakfasts. Each 30-second ad contains the tagline "Rise and Shine."

Jeff Hilton, president of Integrated Marketing Group in Salt Lake City, said Silk's mainstream advertising strategy could work because "there's been enough press on the advantages of soy that any consumers who are at all health-conscious know soy is a good thing. People buy milk anyway, so they may be willing to take a $3 risk on Silk."

Silk's $35 million marketing campaign eats up a little less than 10 percent of White Wave's forecasted $370 million in sales this year. In addition, White Wave can rely on the deep pockets of its parent company, Dallas-based Dean Foods, which posted $9.2 billion in 2003 revenue.

Other elements of the marketing campaign include underwriting National Public Radio programming, product sampling, shelf talkers, floor graphics, coupons and event sponsorships.

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