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Pop-Tarts Partners With Colleges in Sporty Promotion

The Exchange

Just in time for college football season, five states will see a sporty change to a time-honored breakfast treat: the sticky-sweet, packaged pastry known as the Pop-Tart. Kellogg's (K) perpetually popular product -- which first hit grocery shelves nearly 50 years ago -- will honor five college football teams by embossing their logos atop the frosting of specially named specimens set to roll out in early September.

Obama and Bernanke

The schools partnered with in this deal: the University of North Carolina (Tar Heel Berry Pop-Tart), the University of Florida (Florida Gators' Strawberry), University of Georgia (Bulldog Berry), University of Michigan (Go Blue Strawberry) and the Arkansas Razorbacks (Razorback Red). Consumers looking for an actual new flavor as part of this promotion may be disappointed, as all of these choices are just versions of one: strawberry.

According to Dick Podiak, Kellogg's marketing director for Pop-Tarts, there is no specific time frame for this promotion; the push will last as long as the Tarts are available. Consumers who don't live in one of the five states featuring the products on  grocery shelves can get in on the action by ordering them online.

Healthy Pop-Tarts Sales

Kellogg's earlier this month reported second quarter earnings that beat Wall Street expectations, even as rising commodity costs (including the spike in corn due to the ongoing drought in the Midwest) and continuing weakness in Europe led to a 12% drop in net income. Pop-Tarts were given credit for driving healthy sales in North America; more than 60% of its sales are in the U.S., even as it has expanded its presence in Europe, Latin America and Asia. As Simon Burton, executive officer of the Snacks business unit for Kellogg's, noted on the earnings call, "The Pop-Tarts business had a great quarter, posting a strong sales growth."

While roughly 60 percent of Pop-Tarts enthusiasts are children, according to Kellogg's, increasingly frenzied (and continuously budget-conscious)  professionals may be helping to give this inexpensive and easily transported breakfast option -- a top seller overall for Kellogg's and a market leader in the shelf stable toaster pastry space -- even more of a boost.

Kellogg's is trading Thursday afternoon at $51; its 52-week range is between $46.33 and $55.30, and shares are essentially flat for the year, up just over 1%.

The edible space is, of course, littered with promotional tie-ins that have had varied success over the decades, but the college-team tie-up seems to be ripe with untapped possibilities. Blue-devil shaped potato chips for Duke's basketball team, anyone? Wildcat-bat-embossed chocolate bars for Arizona's top-ranked baseball team? The possibilities are endless.

Would you buy a limited edition, sports-team-related food product, or do you think such promotions are gimmicky?  Are there any sports-related food products you'd be hungry to see on the grocery shelf? Let us know in the comments section below.