Home coffeemakers perk up P&G, Sara Lee PR battle

NEW YORK: A major PR battle is brewing between Procter & Gamble and Sara Lee as each introduces a new type of single-serve home coffeemaker in the US. The new coffeemakers are an effort to drive home coffee sales in the face of competition from Starbucks and other away-from-home coffee choices.

NEW YORK: A major PR battle is brewing between Procter & Gamble and Sara Lee as each introduces a new type of single-serve home coffeemaker in the US. The new coffeemakers are an effort to drive home coffee sales in the face of competition from Starbucks and other away-from-home coffee choices.

P&G is working with Porter Novelli for its Home Caf? device. The manufacturers involved in the P&G project are using their own PR firms - which include Hill & Knowlton and Nike Communications - to push the product, said Tonia Hyatt, external relations manager for coffee at P&G.

The manufacturers involved are Krups, Black & Decker, Mr. Coffee, and Hamilton Beach. The overall marketing campaign for Home Caf? will be worth more than $50 million.

On the other side, a partnership between Sara Lee and Philips Electronics is working with MS&L, which has put 10 people on the account, said Jenny Dennee, the MS&L VP in New York overseeing the effort. Account spending has not been announced.

Sara Lee will stress that its system - Senseo - has been successful in Europe, where it was introduced in 2001. It will play up being the inventor of this new category, Dennee said.

P&G, which gave USA Today an exclusive on its Home Caf? intro on February 17, will stress quality, convenience, and its exclusive brewing tech, said Hyatt.

"We have strong and continuing PR plans," she said.

Sara Lee will begin selling its Senseo this month, two months before P&G, and will stress its first-to-market advantage in PR efforts, said Dennee. It will focus on food and lifestyle magazine editors, and try to get on morning TV shows, which Dennee expects to do on-air comparisons of the new machines.

Both products plan to make major splashes at the International Housewares show from March 22 to 24 in Chicago, which is a major event for convincing retail outlets to carry products.

Kraft plans to begin test marketing a new coffeemaker in France later this year.

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