Quaker Oats Takes Marketing Push Online

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Quaker Oats Co. this week kicked off the first marketing campaign for its Cap'n Crunch cereal that includes the Internet with a $1 million sweepstakes centering on the disappearance of Cap'n Crunch from the face of cereal boxes.


Pre-teens will be encouraged in a three-phase effort to find the missing Cap'n Crunch in the promotion, which is one of the largest ever by Quaker Oats for ready-to-eat cereals.


The brand will get its own capncrunch.com site Jan 22. "Our site is aimed to be really fun for the kids and to let them experience how fun Cap'n Crunch is," said Christine Carter, Chico, CA-based brand manager at Quaker Oats. "So, it's really an equity-building experience."


Kids must buy different "missing Cap'n" cereal boxes to participate in this online and offline treasure hunt. Each box offers varying clues and includes a "crunchiscope", an interactive clue decoder, to help decipher clues, which can be found on capncrunch.com and Nickelodeon's Nick.com.


In the second phase, kids who buy a double-pack of Cap'n Crunch cereal get a free Cap'n Crunch Crunchling Adventure CD-ROM, which has a retail value of $30.


When the Cap'n returns, Quaker Oats will have him introduce a limited-edition cereal tentatively named "Mystery Crunch."


As an incentive, 10,000 kids who piece the clues together and find the Cap'n will get $100 each in a drawing scheduled to take place in May..


"Kids, for the most part, get to choose what kind of cereal they eat in the morning, so they'll tell their parents or they'll be in the store, see it and ask for it," Carter said.


Quaker's push to increase consumption will last six months. As the fourth-largest ready-to-eat cereal marketer in the United States, Quaker Oats holds 9.2 percent of supermarket cereal sales, according to 1999 figures from market researcher IRI.
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