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Burrell Jumps to General Mills

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Burrell Communications' Publicis connection was crucial to the agency's landing of General Mills' African American business.

The Chicago shop was suggested for the assignment by lead General Mills agency Saatchi & Saatchi, also a unit of Paris-based Publicis S.A.

Publicis owns 49 percent of Burrell.

The Minneapolis-based food giant becomes one of the largest clients on Burrell's roster, which includes McDonald's, Verizon and Coca-Cola. Billings were not disclosed but are estimated in excess of $15-20 million.

To accept the assignment, Burrell had to end its five-year relationship with the Kellogg Co., which said in a statement that it had already launched a search for another agency and "remains very committed to reaching African American consumers."

Through Burrell, Kellogg's linked with the Tom Joyner syndicated radio show.

General Mills split with Don Coleman Advertising in Southfield, Mich., earlier this year in what a company representative called a mutual decision.

Saatchi's recommendation of Burrell for the African American account led to meetings in which the agency considered the move, said Fay Ferguson, managing director of marketing operations at Burrell. "It was a long decision process because we've had a good relationship with Kellogg's," she said.

What it eventually came down to was the "breadth of their products," Ferguson said.

A General Mills representative said the company approached Burrell. "They were our first choice; we were aware of their work," the representative said. Burrell will start work on General Mills' Pop Secret, Hamburger Helper and cake mix brands before moving to cereals.

The agency intends to target both the African American and urban-youth market, the latter in a segment it has dubbed "yurban." "It'll be beyond advertising and get into a lot of areas we weren't involved in with Kellogg's," Ferguson said.

In addition to creative, Burrell's account includes media buying and planning for the assignments it handles, a company representative said.

General Mills last month consolidated its U.S. business at Saatchi and Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis, ending its 39-year relationship with DDB Chicago. The client also consolidated its $450 million broadcast buying business with Zenith Media in New York.