Kraft Foods Sides with PR: ‘It’s Not You, Ad Agencies. It’s Us.’

new kraft foods

Late last week, Kraft Foods announced it was parting ways with many of its advertising agencies. Seven of its 11 ad agencies were unceremoniously shown the door.

The company believes having that many chefs in the kitchen can be bad for cooking. That many agencies playing the game of ‘Telephone’ proves the theory of lost in translation. So, Kraft Foods decided to greatly reduce the white noise. The move to go less with advertising is an effort to align its brands “more strategically with the particular strengths of agencies on our roster.”

Here’s the thing: the company is keeping all 12 of its PR firms on retainer. Strategery!!

When news about Kraft Foods cutting its ad budget, people in advertising and PR understood:

“When we became an independent company two years ago, we found ourselves with a rich agency roster filled with best-in-class partners — including more than a dozen agencies of record,” said Russ Dyer, spokesman for Kraft.

“As a more focused company, we have been reviewing opportunities to right-size and right-cast our agency roster to more appropriately suit our communication needs. All of these agencies are exceptionally talented but a roster this size prevents us from nurturing the types of relationships critical to building, deep and long-standing brand partnerships.”

Then he told told PR Week that this mindset only matters when it comes to advertising.

“We feel good about our [PR] agency roster. We’ve got a lot of talented agencies, a good mix of different skill sets, and we continue to be pleased with a lot of the work.”

So, why doesn’t the trimming the fat apply to PR?

kraft ecard

Both disciplines require creative thinking, strategic decision, and an implicit understanding the brand. Both create visibility and results. Both establish industry positioning and create market share. However, less voices in advertising is a good thing, but you need a dozen PR shops on the speed dial?!

Kraft’s PR agency roster is comprised of Brunswick Group; Edelman; Henson Consulting; Hunter Public Relations; Ketchum; Mitchell Communications Group; Olson Engage; Taylor; Weber Shandwick; MorganMyers; and Citizen Optimum and Harbinger in Canada.

Many of us have worked for a brand that requires more than one PR voice at the table. Regretfully, that can be problematic because there are differing opinions on what works — loud ones.

That said, it’s the way of the world for public relations. Brands not only insist on having different PR shops for different locations, but also for different areas. Do ad agencies not play as well with others as PR firms? Are PR firms better at sandbox relations than its advertising cohorts?

While this hybrid doesn’t have a strong opinion one way or another, this move by Kraft Foods makes me think this blogger needs to do a study on that sort of thing. Your thoughts? The comments are open.