Newspaper article International New York Times

Jimmy Dean to Expand Its Brand ; Breakfast Sausage Maker to Introduce 16 Items for Lunch and Dinner

Newspaper article International New York Times

Jimmy Dean to Expand Its Brand ; Breakfast Sausage Maker to Introduce 16 Items for Lunch and Dinner

Article excerpt

The 45-year-old brand that began as a breakfast sausage company is expanding to include lunch and dinner items.

Americans' appetite for frozen dinners has waned in recent years, with sales of single-serve microwaveable entrees down 4.1 percent in the 52 weeks that ended Aug. 10, according to IRI, a market data firm.

But frozen breakfast items have, in every sense, been heating up, with sales of breakfast sandwiches and burritos growing 6.7 percent and breakfast entrees growing 5 percent in the same period.

Now Jimmy Dean, which leads those breakfast categories, is introducing 16 items for lunch and dinner, an expansion that the brand says will put some sizzle in those struggling sections of the supermarket freezer.

Introduced 45 years ago as a breakfast sausage brand, Jimmy Dean began expanding into breakfast sandwiches in the 1980s. The challenge for a new advertising campaign, and for the products themselves, is to convince consumers that Jimmy Dean has not extended the brand too far, as with such unsuccessful brand extensions as Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water and Life Savers soda.

New items include pulled pork, smoked turkey, beef and smoked sausage sandwiches, and bowls with a variety of meats, potatoes, pastas and cheeses. Half are marketed under the lower-calorie label Delights, a subbrand whose offerings have 300 calories or fewer.

Karmen Conrad, director of marketing for the frozen-foods division of Jimmy Dean, a Tyson Foods brand, said that frozen dinners had lagged because they are not tasty enough, while tastiness has given her brand a stronghold.

"Our frozen-breakfast users also buy a lot of frozen lunches and dinners, but there's a big dissatisfaction with the current product offerings," she said. "So the thought was to take the equity that we have in delivering great taste and high-quality products that you've come to love in breakfast, and to now offer you flavors and products that are for occasions outside of breakfast."

Jimmy Dean commands 52.8 percent of the $1.1 billion segment for so-called handheld breakfast items, increasing its revenue in that segment 6.3 percent over the last year. It also has 35.8 percent of the $758 million breakfast entree segment, increasing its revenue there 5 percent over the last year, according to IRI.

Jimmy Dean, a television host and country singer whose song, "Big Bad John," hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1961, started his sausage brand in 1969, using his grandfather's recipe. After he sold the company to Sara Lee in 1984, he stayed on as a spokesman, issuing such folksy wisdom in commercials as, "Sausage is a great deal like life. You get out of it about what you put into it."

In 2003, Mr. Dean was replaced by a sun-costume-wearing brand character, played by the actor Haynes Brooks, who, like the advertising agency that developed the character, TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles, part of the TBWA/Chiat/Day division of TBWA Worldwide, still works for the brand. …

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