PILLSBURY CHANGING BAKE-OFF CONTEST

CHICAGO -- The Pillsbury Co., Minneapolis, is making major changes to its Pillsbury Bake-Off that include raising the grand prize from $50,000 to $1 million, increasing the number of products that can be used, and creating local in-store bake-offs and other store-based promotions.Pillsbury officials announced the changes to the 46-year-old contest during the recent Food Marketing Institute Convention

CHICAGO -- The Pillsbury Co., Minneapolis, is making major changes to its Pillsbury Bake-Off that include raising the grand prize from $50,000 to $1 million, increasing the number of products that can be used, and creating local in-store bake-offs and other store-based promotions.

Pillsbury officials announced the changes to the 46-year-old contest during the recent Food Marketing Institute Convention here at a press conference hosted by Alex Trebek, host of the television game show Jeopardy.

"We're going to have in-store demonstrators with coupon books and entry forms. We're also going to provide free oven ranges to retailers to do their own in-store sweepstakes contests. We've got valuable prizes in place for those retailers to put on their shelf sets and get behind the promotion," said Paul Walsh, Pillsbury's chief executive officer.

"We are also running co-op TV advertising and we'll have FSIs and point-of-sale materials in the fall that will lead up to the Bake-Off contest in February," he said.

The contest will rely heavily on in-store displays. Any retailer that builds a qualifying display meeting minimum case requirements will earn a Pillsbury Doughboy collectible doll.

To further build interest in the contest Pillsbury will be courting black and Hispanic bakers through point-of-sale materials, public relations support and advertising in Ebony, Essence and African-American newspapers.

Because it acquired Pet, Inc. earlier this year, Pillsbury has expanded the list of items that can be used in the contest to include a number of former Pet brands, including some Old El Paso and Progresso products.

"We tried to restructure the recipe categories in a manner that will reflect how America is cooking today. We've also got far more products that qualify as entries into the recipes for this promotion," Walsh said. He added that this year consumers will serve as judges in the competition for the first time.

Trebek noted, "With a larger grand prize the number of entries will go up dramatically. With a million dollars out there they will say 'Woo yes! It could happen to me.' "

Walsh agreed. "Given the weight behind the contest -- with the $1 million prize -- and by working with the trade, it's really going to be an attention-getting promotion. I think it will translate into a win-win proposition for everyone," he told SN.

The 37th Pillsbury Bake-Off finals will be held in late February in Dallas.

Pillsbury is a division of the British conglomerate Grand Metropolitan.