Beech-Nut Narrows Agency Search

The 61-year-old baby-food manufacturer Beech-Nut Nutrition has narrowed the search for an agency to handle its marketing and advertising, sources said.

Suissa Miller, the Los Angeles agency that has handled the account for seven years, is on the shortlist of undisclosed shops left, sources said. The RFP circulated by Claggett Creative Consulting, the St. Louis firm managing the search, says the work involves a mixture of direct marketing, promotions, print ads and interactive ads.

Although the RFP pegs the total marketing and communication budget at $11.5 million, sources said a large portion of the budget is earmarked for ancillary marketing activities. Included are such areas as coupon redemption programs and fees required to secure mailing lists for direct mail campaigns, sources said.

According to the RFP, the marketing budget includes $4.3 million for direct marketing and $1.2 million for a print campaign. The remainder is divided into areas such as “consumer promotions.”

Bruce Miller, a principal at Suissa Miller, declined comment on the account and referred questions to the client.

Neither the client, which is also based in St. Louis, nor the search consultant could be reached for comment at press time.

The Beech-Nut brand generates about $150 million in annual sales and is owned by Milnot Holding Corp. of St. Louis, which is a division of Chicago-based private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners.

The parent company attempted to sell the brand to H.J. Heinz for $185 million last year, but the takeover was scuttled on antitrust grounds.

According to the RFP, the client expects to name finalists on April 8 and make a decision May 27.