Fun food at Astro

A canadian company specializing in cultured dairy products is trying to establish a new market segment in the children's dessert and snack food category.After four years of research and development, Astro Dairy Products today is launching a tv spot in the...

A canadian company specializing in cultured dairy products is trying to establish a new market segment in the children’s dessert and snack food category.

After four years of research and development, Astro Dairy Products today is launching a tv spot in the greater Toronto area in support of Wobble, a hybrid created by combining yogurt and gelatin.

Gelatin is the key ingredient in Jell-O, the popular children’s dessert made by Kraft General Foods.

Products consisting of a mixture of yogurt and gelatin have been sold in Europe in the past, but Jack Marshall, vice-president of marketing with Etobicoke, Ont.-based Astro, says he believes Wobble is the first to be launched in North America.

Marshall says Wobble, which has been shipping to stores for the past several weeks, is a brand concept that combines the ‘health’ positioning of yogurt with the ‘fun’ positioning of Jell-O.

In fact, Astro is so keen to build a ‘fun’ positioning for Wobble that it refers to Jell-O, the ultimate fun food, by name in a free-standing insert scheduled to be sent to about three million households in Ontario, Quebec and b.c. on May 11.

The insert, created by Astro’s ad agency, Wolf Advertising of Toronto, bears the headline: ‘Wobble – because your kids love the fun of Jell-O and you love the goodness of Astro yogurt.’

Despite the blatant parallel the insert draws between the two brands, Marshall says he is not trying to steal market share from Jell-O as much as he is using Jell-O’s playful brand image as a reference point to help consumers understand Wobble’s positioning.

Certainly, to succeed in the market, Wobble will need to capture the fancy of children, who are expected to be the primary end-users.

But it will also need to satisfy the nutritional concerns of parents, who will be the primary purchasers.

Astro believes yogurt’s strong image as a healthy food will lend the brand credibility among nutrition-conscious parents who might otherwise dismiss the product as being merely a dessert.

In everyday-low-price grocers, a 175-gram serving of Wobble sells for between 69 cents and 79 cents, about the same as a similarly sized container of yogurt.

The product is available in five fruit flavors,

Marshall admits he has no way of knowing how the market will take to Wobble, but he says the concept tested well among consumer research groups in Canada and the u.s. over the last year.

Spokespersons for two of Astro’s competitors, Ault Foods of Etobicoke, Ont., and Delisle Foods, of Boucherville, Que., said their companies were watching the launch closely, but did not have similar products in development.

Marshall says Wobble has already gained shelf listings in all the major Ontario grocery chains.

He says that is why the 30-second tv spot, which is slated to air for three weeks in its initial flight, will begin airing in Toronto first.

He says the spot will be used in other Canadian markets as the product introduction progresses.

As well, Astro has already licensed Wobble to two u.s. dairies and is negotiating with several others.

Wolf Advertising President Larry Wolf says he believes the Wobble tv spot will drive product sales ‘to unbelievable heights.’

The spot uses a specialized morphing effect that makes the on-screen talent, a mother, two children and a dog, appear to wobble after they eat the product.