Piggly-Wiggly's Mr. Pig goes '90s

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but it is still rare when a weight-loss plan is the central facet of a company's image-enhancing campaign.

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but it is still rare when a weight-loss plan is the central facet of a company's image-enhancing campaign.

For southeastern grocery store chain Piggly-Wiggly, however, a makeover of its portly mascot Mr. Pig is a primary facet of a branding effort kickstarted two years ago by president Larry Wright.

The Memphis franchiser slimmed down Mr. Pig to make him more relevant to today's more health-conscious customers. The new Mr. Pig - who appears in ads as well as at grand openings, promotions, parades and schools - is no Calista Flockhart, but he is 'a bit trimmer,' according to VP of sales, marketing and advertising Jim Garrison.

'Branding is important to us as a franchise company. We have a couple of (branding) tools - the unusual name and a built-in mascot - two elements we haven't utilized to the fullest,' Garrison said. 'You can't mention the word Piggly-Wiggly without smiling.'

The company also takes its image on the road, in a custom-built bus that serves as both a rolling office and a moving billboard.

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