Famous faces sell food products

August 20, 2003 in Food Companies, Manufacturing and Trends

Famous faces sell food products

You just can't escape the marvelous marketing machine.

Even before "The Hulk" opened in movie theaters, you could fill a grocery cart with packages of edibles featuring the character's menacing mug.Boxes of mini Ritz crackers that sport silvery, collectible holographic Hulk stickers. Chocolatey Hersey's syrup that has been colored green - for a limited time - in honor of the movie. Oreo cookie packages that hide green cookie game pieces worth cold, hard cash. Tri-colored Popsicles that pay homage to the Hulk and his Marvel comic buddies, Spider-Man and Captain America. The list goes on and on.

Popular personalities on products - real or fictional - are nothing new to foodies. Emeril Lagasse has spices and pots and pans; Ming Tsai hawks knives and gourmet items; Paul Newman's face is on dressings, salsa and other foodstuffs; SpongeBob SquarePants lends his comical countenance to cereals and frozen treats; and a busload of Disney characters are commonly found on food labels. And, of course, all can be purchased now with The Hulk limited-edition MasterCard.

"Marketing plans are build on the latest and greatest things," said Harry Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group, a company that tracks and analyzes sales and marketing information for a wide range of industries. "It's all about the power of the license. It's taking a gamble on what we think - or really, what we hope - will be the next big thing."

Licensing translates into a lot of cha-chings at the supermarket. The Hulk's current competitor in the marketplace is Nemo, an overly curious, orange-and-white striped clown fish. "We recently bought Nemo cereal and popcorn," said Cindi Kirkley, a Maitland, Fla., mother of two children, ages 5 and 8. Cha-ching.

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