(Aug. 10) Dole is going retro for its latest banana and pineapple promotion.

Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Fresh Fruit Co. is reviving its 1980s Bananimal campaign, but this time around, Dole is introducing two patented toys for the 2007 program, said Rick Utchell, vice president of advertising and promotions.

Meet Banapup and Pineosaurus.

While the animals have changed, Utchell said he believes this program can drive the same kind of monumental sales as the ’80s promotion.

“You can hear about it in my voice — I’m very excited about it,” said Utchell, who orchestrated both programs. “Because the original Bananimals were so successful, I didn’t want this to be second best or a retooling of old programs.

“I wanted it to be different and new, and that’s why we brought in pineapple.”

AVAILABLE OCT. 1

The plush toys will be available for purchase online at www.dole.com by Oct. 1, lasting through 2007, or whenever supplies run out, and Utchell said other “animals” are in development if consumer response warrants continuation of the program.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t already have some in design. We’ve got some characters ready to go,” Utchell said. “We want to see how the consumer and retailer accepts it first. It wouldn’t be for a year.”

There are 60,000 stuffed animals in production, priced at $6.99 (taxes and shipping included), Utchell said.

“We went high quality — we want it to be the quality you’d expect from our Dole food line,” Utchell said. “There’s no way you can get that kind of quality for $6.99 at a toy store, and we’re going to deliver it to your house.”

GETTING THE WORD OUT

To advertise Pineosaurus and Banapup, Dole expects to distribute 100 million Dole banana Price Look-Up stickers and 4.5 million Dole Tropical Gold pineapple hang tags through October, in addition to two national free-standing inserts that will appear in newspapers nationwide on Oct. 7 and 14, Utchell said.

The inserts are projected to receive more than 90 million impressions, Utchell said.

Based on the popularity of the 1980s Bananimal program — which spanned three years, produced 12 animals and won the National Promotion Association’s Gold Key award for three straight years — Utchell predicts the new promotion will generate similar excitement and extend beyond 2007.

Utchell plans to retire Jan. 25 after more than 37 years with Dole, and the firm is still searching for his successor, Utchell said.

Rhonda Reed, previously director of marketing for fresh fruit, was named vice president of marketing for fresh fruit and vegetables in late July.


Rick Utchell, vice president of advertising and promotions for Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Fresh Fruit Co., is the driving force behind the current Bananimal campaign featuring Banapup and Pineosaurus.