GIANT FOOD ROOTS FOR NITTANY LIONS

CARLISLE, Pa. -- Giant Food Stores here is strengthening its ties to Penn State University athletics with plans to carry a Penn State-branded cereal this summer, according to the university's marketing department.Giant will sell 15-ounce boxes of Penn State Crunch, a cereal similar to Frosted Flakes, for an in-and-out promotion beginning in August, said Angelo Scialfa, senior account executive, Penn

CARLISLE, Pa. -- Giant Food Stores here is strengthening its ties to Penn State University athletics with plans to carry a Penn State-branded cereal this summer, according to the university's marketing department.

Giant will sell 15-ounce boxes of Penn State Crunch, a cereal similar to Frosted Flakes, for an in-and-out promotion beginning in August, said Angelo Scialfa, senior account executive, Penn State Sports Marketing, Bala Cynwyd, Pa., the university's sales force for athletics.

A spokesman for Giant, part of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold, declined to comment.

This will be the second year in a row that Giant will carry Penn State cereal. Last year, it merchandised Penn State Crunch in endcap displays in about 160 of its stores. The cereal was sold at other retail outlets in the region, although Giant accounted for most of the volume.

This year's promotion at Giant will differ in that the cereal features a new design, and is tied to a sweepstakes involving the retailer's loyalty card. The sweepstakes will involve athletics in some way, although full details have not been finalized.

Making its debut last year, the cereal featured the university's Nittany Lion logo on the front of the package. Penn State's goal is to introduce a new package design each year so that the cereal becomes a collector's item.

A total of 22,000 boxes will be produced this year and sold at Giant, as well as at other retailers. The cereal's manufacturer was not disclosed.

Scialfa said the product not only benefits the Penn State brand, but also Giant in that it enables the retailer to provide an added-value offering to the thousands of die-hard Penn State sports fans in Giant's operating areas, said Scialfa.

"No matter where you live in Pennsylvania, there's fan loyalty to Penn State," he said.

The product is the latest in a line of promotions that Penn State has run at Giant. Last year, it was the exclusive retailer for a Penn State football promotion involving Kellogg, Battle Creek, Mich. Customers who purchased two Kellogg's cereals with their loyalty card were entered into the Penn State Tailgate Sweepstakes. The winner received a tailgate party, Penn State clothing and tailgate food. More than 8,700 entries were received in the first week of the promotion.

Following on the heels of the Tailgate Sweepstakes, Giant teamed with Kellogg again, this time for a basketball promotion. Consumers who purchased two Kellogg cereals with their loyalty card were entered into the Penn State Slam Dunk Sweepstakes. The winner received four tickets to a Penn State basketball game, a VIP tour of the university's sports arena, hotel accommodations, and dinner for four.

Along with retailers, Penn State also has strong ties to consumer packaged goods companies. It has created branding and sales promotions with S.C. Johnson, Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola, among others.

The joint efforts run the gamut from Penn State-themed displays to corporate partnerships. A few marketers have developed exclusive packaging and new products especially for Penn State.

Snyder's of Hanover and Edy's Grand Ice Cream are among the manufacturers that have formed licensing agreements with the university. For the past several years, Hanover, Pa.-based Snyder's has created limited-edition packaging for "Penn State Specials" pretzels. Advertising on the Penn State Radio Network, coupons and print ads typically support the packaging.

Edy's went a step above most partnerships a few years ago when it created a new ice cream flavor, "Nittany Nuggets," a vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips. The co-branded ice cream was packaged in a carton featuring the Penn State logo and school colors of blue, white and silver. Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Holdings, Oakland, Calif., manufacturers the Edy's brand.

Such promotions are a win-win strategy and benefit all participants, Scialfa noted.

"These manufacturers allow the Penn State brand to have visibility at supermarket retail chains," he said.