Hovis firm launches £50m ad push

HovisHovis and Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods will launch a major television advertising push this week after admitting its marketing efforts had failed to keep pace with competitors.

The debt-laden group has doubled its marketing spend to more than £50 million for this year in a bid to build on the "strengths and heritage" of its eight "power" brands, which also include Bisto, Batchelors, Oxo and Ambrosia.
Sharwood's will kick off the marketing push on Thursday with its Great British Curry campaign showing a chef visiting local curry houses across Britain.

American presenter Loyd Grossman, whose name is lent to a number of cooking sauces, will return to television from February 6 in an advert that will highlight his passion for food, while a new Hovis ad from February 10 will continue a previous campaign showing a young boy's journey through recent history.

Further advertising for Mr Kipling, Bisto, Oxo and Ambrosia will be launched in the next few months as part of the largest period of TV advertising the company has ever launched. Each ad will carry a Premier Foods signature.

Chief executive Michael Clarke, who joined the business from Kraft last year, said: "The awareness and popularity of our power brands remain strong but it's clear that we haven't invested enough in marketing compared with our competitors. I'm committed to changing that."

The St Albans-based company, which employs around 12,000 people in the UK and Ireland, has been fighting for survival in recent months as profits plummet and it struggles to keep up with repayments on its £850 million debt mountain.

It was recently given extra time by its banks to get its finances in order, but shares have collapsed from 34.5p to 10p in a year after a series of profit warnings as shoppers increasingly switch to supermarket own-label brands and it is forced to put on more promotions to compete.

Premier recently announced it would cut 600 jobs - 5% of its workforce - in a bid to reinvest the savings in this year's marketing push.
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