Nitro Takes Philly Cream Cheese

NEW YORK Kraft Foods has selected Nitro to handle U.S. creative duties on its Philadelphia Cream Cheese brand after a review, the client has confirmed.

Sources identified the other finalists as independent mcgarrybowen in New York and WPP Group’s JWT in New York. The business will shift from JWT’s Toronto office, which has handled it since late last year. Before that, JWT’s Chicago office worked on the brand. JWT, however, will continue to handle Philly Cream Cheese in more than 20 markets outside the U.S., including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain and Mexico, a Kraft representative said.

Major media spending on Philadelphia Cream Cheese totaled $25 million last year and $12 million in the first five months of 2008, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The finalists emerged this month from a wider field that also included Havas’ Euro RSCG in New York and Interpublic Group’s DraftFCB in Chicago.

Last week, JWT, mcgarrybowen and Nitro, a New York independent that also handles Kraft’s Singles brand, made another round of presentations at the client’s headquarters in Northfield, Ill., said sources.

“We are obviously delighted with the win,” said Chris Clarke, global CEO of Nitro. “There is a real energy at the new Kraft and we are excited to be a valued partner.”

The creative jump ball on Philadelphia Cream Cheese came a few months after Kraft shifted its natural cheese creative account from DraftFCB in Chicago to mcgarrybowen. Natural cheese spending was under $1 million last year, according to Nielsen.

Kraft has shifted several brand assignments in the past two years, as the company faces mounting pressure from Wall Street, commodity price increases and cost-conscious consumers.