Mullen Faces Zatarain’s Pitch

Zatarain’s has put its estimated $8 million advertising account into review.

Independent shops Peter A. Mayer Advertising of New Orleans, WestWayne in Atlanta and undisclosed agencies are contenders, sources said. Interpublic Group’s Mullen in Winston-Salem, N.C., will defend. Agency presentations are scheduled for mid-December, sources said. There is no consultant.

“We’ve been helping grow the Zatarain’s brand and business for more than 10 years,” said Mullen president John Fitzgerald. “We are confident we have the people and expertise to help continue to build their brand as we move forward.”

The Gretna, La., company makes New Orleans-style spices, sauces, rice mixes and seasonings. Sources said the review was the result of Zata rain’s entry into the frozen “bowls” product category, which also includes competitors such as Uncle Ben’s and Mrs. Paul’s. Zatarain’s spent about $5 million on advertising through August of this year, according to CMR. The company’s 2001 media expenditures totaled $8 million.

Agencies will present a creative campaign for a specific rice-mix side dish, sources said, though the entire account is up for grabs. The client could not be reached for comment.