THREE CHEERS FOR THE RED, WHITE AND GREEN

Retailers are priming shoppers for the holiday season with a variety of Italian-themed promotions.Supermarkets are touting campaigns with slogans such as "Festival Italiano," "Italian Festival of Savings," and "Bring Home a Taste of Italy," in circulars and newspaper ads.In the spotlight are specials on Italian favorites like pasta, sauce, tomato paste, oil and vinegar.Northeastern chains have been

Retailers are priming shoppers for the holiday season with a variety of Italian-themed promotions.

Supermarkets are touting campaigns with slogans such as "Festival Italiano," "Italian Festival of Savings," and "Bring Home a Taste of Italy," in circulars and newspaper ads.

In the spotlight are specials on Italian favorites like pasta, sauce, tomato paste, oil and vinegar.

Northeastern chains have been particularly active in such programs. For instance, Super Fresh Food Market, Richmond, Va., a division of A&P, Montvale, N.J., ran a full-page newspaper ad under the heading "Festival Italiano." Items promoted in the ad included Ragu spaghetti sauce, 98 cents for a 27-ounce jar; Tuttorosso tomatoes, two 28-ounce cans for 98 cents; San Giorgio pasta, three 1-pound boxes for 98 cents; Progresso vegetable soups, one 19-ounce can for 88 cents; and Progresso kidney beans, two 19-ounce cans for 98 cents.

Similarly, Pathmark Stores, Woodbridge, N.J., ran a full-page newspaper ad highlighting an "Italian Festival of Savings."

At the top of the ad was a $2 coupon for a 3-quart 5-ounce can of Filippo Berio olive oil, making the final price $7.88. Also included in the ad were Progresso soups, 18.25- to 19-ounce cans, as a buy-one, get-two-free special; and San Giorgio pasta, five 1-pound boxes for $2.

Grand Union Co., Wayne, N.J., touted a "Bring Home a Taste of Italy" promotion in its circular. Items included Pope olive oil, $5.99 for a 3-liter tin; Rienzi tomatoes, 39 cents for a 28-ounce can; Redpack tomato sauce, 10 8-ounce cans for $1; Grand Union pasta, four 1-pound boxes for $1; and Pepsi or Diet Pepsi, 79 cents for a 2-liter bottle.

The Italian theme was also evident at ShopRite stores (members of Wakefern Food Corp., Elizabeth, N.J.) "ShopRite's Italian Festival," and a picture of the Italian flag were printed on the front page of its circular. Promoted items included Bertolli olive oil, $7.99 for a 101-ounce tin; Redpack tomatoes, 39 cents for a 28- or 29-ounce can; and Ronzoni pasta, three 1-pound packages for $1.

Items were also highlighted on inside circular pages. Among them: ShopRite Italian cookies, Rienzi mushrooms, Progresso beans, Bertolli olive oil, and varieties of Rienzi and Ronzoni lasagna.

The Italian theme was also featured in the frozens section of the circular, where ShopRite advertised specials on items such as Italian Village cheese ravioli and manicotti; Andrea cavatelli and ravioli; and Red Baron, Ellio's and Mama Celeste pizza. Two weeks ago, Edwards Super Food Stores, Carlisle, Pa., a division of Ahold USA, Atlanta, ran an "Italian Festival of Savings," campaign. Italian products were featured in every department and promoted throughout the chain's Oct. 5 to 11 circular.

" 'Italianfest '97.' Discover a New World of Low Prices," read copy in the ad. In the grocery section, features included Rienzi Parmesan cheese, $3.54 for an 8-ounce container; San Giorgio lasagna, $1.14 for a 1-pound package; Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil, $16.82 for a 101-ounce tin; and Pfeiffer salad dressing, Caesar or red wine with vinegar and oil, 67 cents for an 8-ounce bottle. Other items included Rienzi imported pasta and balsamic vinegar, lasagna pans, Redpack tomato paste and Progresso beans, roasted peppers and bread crumbs.

In the frozens department, Italian Village ravioli and cheese tortellini were offered.

Private label has been a big part of the Italian campaigns. At Edwards, for instance, a variety of Finast items were offered, including Finast garlic powder, onion salt, pitted ripe olives and garlic salt. Edwards' Sensational private-label line was also highlighted, including Sensational pasta sauce and pasta.