Post-`Seinfeld' Gardenburger Loses Bite

Slumping sales pulled second-quarter profit for Portland-based Gardenburger down 69 percent from the same period last year, when the maker of veggie-burgers achieved record sales following a nationwide advertising blitz that included a spot on the final episode of "Seinfeld."

Executives said that even if last year's sales were not sustained, they did not regret a gamble last year that bet the company's advertising budget on a quirky TV commercial blitz that pumped up business.

The $17 million campaign included a series of animated commercials, narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson. One of the earliest ads in the series ran during the final episode of "Seinfeld." It helped put 140,000 burgers on store shelves in 1998, compared with the 20,000 it had on the market in 1997.

Gardenburger reported Friday that sales for the second quarter of this year dropped to $22.2 million from $25.7 million in the same quarter last year, when the ad ran on "Seinfeld." The company posted a loss of $10.4 million, or $1.29 a share, in the quarter ended June 30, compared with a loss of $6.2 million, or 72 cents a share, a year earlier.