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ADVERTISING & MARKETING

ABC Is Hoping Its Banana Ads Bear Fruit

July 30, 1998|From Reuters

ABC television, which promotes its programs on TV, radio, billboards and buses, is going where no network has gone before--bananas.

ABC, a unit of Walt Disney Co., said Wednesday that it plans to place advertising stickers on 15 million bananas in produce sections of grocery stores throughout America.

The station, which has such hits as "NYPD Blue," "The Drew Carey Show," "Dharma & Greg," "Spin City" and "Monday Night Football," said the campaign is part of its "We Love TV" campaign it started last year using the color yellow as a backdrop.

Half the banana stickers will read: "TV. Zero Calories"; the other half will read, "Another Fine Use of Yellow." The stickers will appear at supermarkets and grocery stores Monday through Aug. 27.

"It is increasingly more difficult to impact consumers, and the banana labels are a very novel medium to cut through the clutter," said Brian Fox, president of Santa Monica-based Fruit Label Co., which came up with the idea for the campaign.

While going bananas may be a first for ABC, others have advertised there before, most notably studios touting their new movies.

ABC's latest move is part of a bigger attempt to create a "brand" that includes billboards posing questions such as, "If TV is so bad for you, why is there one in every hospital room?"

But some experts say ABC, which is hoping the campaign will bolster falling viewership, may slip on its own peel.

"They want to get viewers to tune into ABC before they go anywhere else, but as always, in television the program is the thing, and ABC hasn't had the horses in the last few years so they are losing viewers dramatically," said Chuck Ross, media editor of Advertising Age.

"Viewers don't like their programming, and that's what ABC has to fix," Ross said. "If ABC put on the next 'Seinfeld' tomorrow it doesn't matter if they're on bananas . . . they'll get a lot of people watching it."

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