Supper Time for Agencies at Iams

High-End Pet Food Company Parts With Doner Over Strategy
DETROIT–The Iams Co. is gearing up a review to find a new agency for its $15 million account following a split with longtime agency Doner.
The 12-year relationship disintegrated due to differences in opinion between the Southfield, Mich., agency and the company over strategic direction, said Alan Kalter, Doner chairman and chief executive officer.
“We’re pretty firm on where we believe the opportunity lies, and they have their points of view,” Kalter said. “We have the ability to have the courage of our convictions at this point, so it’s time to move on.”
Doner will continue working for Dayton, Ohio-based Iams through the review process, which is expected to be completed in early October, Kalter said.
Iams officials were not available to discuss details of the review. But in a statement, marketing vice president Richard Kocon said: “Doner has produced some of the most successful advertising in the company’s history. But sometimes people on both sides of a relationship know when it’s time for change.”
Kalter said recent business wins have allowed Doner to let go of clients with whom it “agrees to disagree.”
“It’s nice that we’re in a position where we can make it mutual,” Kalter said. “The agency is in a financial position where we can have the courage to say, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t work together anymore.'”
Doner developed the tagline “Good for life,” employed in Iams advertising for the past several years. The marketing strategy has been to convey the efficacy of Iams pet foods by stressing the relationship between owners and their dogs, appealing to people who are attuned to health issues in their own lives and want the same for their pets. A recent TV spot shows a teenage girl getting a puppy and keeping it into her adulthood.
Founded in 1946 by animal nutritionist Paul Iams, the company distributes Eukanuba and Iams premium dog and cat foods (dry and canned) in more than 70 countries, with packaging in about 20 languages. The family-owned, privately held company is ranked as the seventh-largest pet food company in the U.S. by Petfood Industry magazine. Iams and Eukanuba are high-end brands sold through specialty pet stores and veterinarians.