Gerber bulking up its advertising diet

After three years with almost no advertising, Gerber Foods Canada is launching marketing initiatives for its baby food, baby care and baby apparel lines.'Its been quite a while since we've had something this heavy,' says Patrick Doyle, vice-president general manager of...

After three years with almost no advertising, Gerber Foods Canada is launching marketing initiatives for its baby food, baby care and baby apparel lines.

‘Its been quite a while since we’ve had something this heavy,’ says Patrick Doyle, vice-president general manager of Gerber Canada.

Gerber is launching a print advertising campaign, developed by Grey Advertising, in about 14 mothering-related publications, and is not ruling out expanding to general interest magazines in the future.

‘We’re going to emphasize the natural qualities of our products, the fact that we focus solely on babies, and the heritage of the Gerber companies – we’ve been in the baby category for 65 years,’ Doyle says.

‘Ultimately, it’s going to be a category-building exercise,’ he says.

Doyle says Gerber will also strengthen its long-running direct mail campaign.

In a separate marketing initiative, Gerber has licensed the Baby Looney Tunes characters from Warner Bros. for their new Looney Tunes Lovables line, an extension of its apparel and baby care product lines.

Doyle says that despite not advertising for several years, the Gerber brand is still strong, and has a high recognition value.

Its research shows that between 98% and 99% of mothers are aware of the brand.

‘[The brand] has been extraordinarily resilient,’ Doyle says. ‘I was amazed.’

Gerber has about a 22% share of the baby food market, with a strong drugstore presence, but it is ‘substantially weaker’ in drugstore distribution, according to Doyle.

Doyle says the baby food market in Canada is weak compared with other developed countries.

Consumption in Canada runs at about 31 or 32 jars of baby food per birth. In the u.s., consumption is more than 50 jars per birth.

‘[Canadians] are making some of their own, and formula consumption is also high in Canada,’ Doyle says.

Gerber competes in three categories: baby foods, baby care and baby apparel.

The food line includes jars, cereal, and Gerber Graduates, baby food geared towards toddlers.

Gerber is the leader in a number of baby care product categories, including pacifiers, breast pumps, reusable nipples, reusable bottles, nursing pads and disposable liners.

The Gerber apparel line includes underwear, booties, bibs, blankets, sleepers, and playwear.