This Is General Mills' First Big Media Review in 14 Years

Becomes the 20th marketer in 6 months to launch a media search

Cheerios is a core General Mills brand.

General Mills is launching a media review, the company confirmed tonight. And like Procter & Gamble, the company hasn't reviewed its media business in more than a decade, a timeframe in which everything about media consumption has changed.

So, unlike say Johnson & Johnson, whose last search ended in 2013, General Mills isn't a review-happy marketer. In fact, Zenith Media has handled the bulk of its planning and buying since 2001 after an exhaustive review. (Similarly, P&G's last review of planning was in 2004 and last buying review was in 1997.)

Still, with some 20 marketers reviewing their media accounts in the past six months, and only a few of them finished, General Mills will be hard-pressed to find major agencies that aren't already pitching multiple accounts, including those involving current clients. UM, in particular, is among the busiest on the review circuit right now. Collectively, those 20 marketers spend more than $17 billion in media annually.

General Mills alone spent about $830 million in media last year, according to Kantar Media. The Minneapolis-based company's search is being managed by Joanne Davis Consulting in New York.

The consultancy couldn't be reached, but a General Mills representative acknowledged the search, noting, in a statement, the changes in the media landscape.

"Today's environment calls for exploring new avenues to reach and engage with our consumers," the rep said. "General Mills is conducting a review to ensure we have the right agency partners for the future."

Key decision-makers include vp of global media Jackie Woodward and chief marketing officer Ann Simonds. Each is new to General Mills: Woodward joined in August 2014 and Simonds, in November.

The process is in its early stages and is expected to stretch into the fall.

Within the review spree, General Mills joins a list of packaged goods players that include Unilever, P&G, Johnson & Johnson and SC Johnson. Collectively, those contests represent $11 billion in media spending.

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