(Oct. 18) HOUSTON — Sunkist Growers Inc. is hoping its next journey down Sesame Street lasts a little longer.

The Sherman Oaks, Calif., marketer is taking a second chance at a kid-friendly marketing campaign that was wiped out by last season’s California freeze.

“It’s the same program we were going to do last year,” said Julie DeWolf, director of marketing and retail promotion. “We kicked it off, and two weeks later the freeze hit.”

Sunkist will offer navels in 4-pound poly bags and 4-pound net bags featuring Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Ernie and Grover from Dec. 7 through Feb. 8. The characters also will appear on bins and header cards.

Sunkist plans to insert a refrigerator magnet featuring one of the characters inside each bag of oranges. The magnets, when pieced together, form a pie shape.

“It’s a cute, fun idea,” DeWolf said. “Each character says something about nutrition. We like to add the aspect of collectibility so kids will want more. It encourages repeat purchases.”

Collecting also will play a role in a Canadian market promotion that will run from January through April. One National Hockey League trading card from Upper Deck will be inserted in 4- and 5-pound net bags and 8-pound poly bags of oranges. There are 10 cards in the set.

A similar promotion also was wiped out by last year’s freeze.

Sunkist has a lemon promotion planned for February through September. The company will introduce a different flip-top header on its 2-pound net bags every two months. The headers fold out to reveal usage tips. The “Lemon-aids” campaign starts with a seafood recipe to coincide with Lent, which begins Feb. 6.

DeWolf said Sunkist will offer retailers in-store demonstrations and booklets for lemon use during February and March and also will run a coupon in Sunday newspapers.

Sunkist plans to team with Little League Baseball again in 2008. However, the company won’t be inserting trading cards in orange sacks next season as it has the past three years.

Instead, Sunkist will offer an online contest at www.sunkist.com with the winner receiving a trip for four to Williamsburg, Pa., for the Little League World Series. At the championship game the winner will have a chance to win $1 million. The person will have three chances to throw a baseball through a hole. The contestant will win $1,000 for one successful toss, $10,000 for two and $1 million for three.