The Richards Group here has been named the first agency of record for San Antonio-based Desert Glory, a grower of greenhouse tomatoes.
Desert Glory marketing director Bryant Ambelang said three other undisclosed Texas agencies were considered as part of a review launched in May. He estimated initial spending at about $3 million.
Ambelang previously was brand manager for Campbell Soup Co.'s Pace Picante sauce. He joined Desert Glory last October.
Richards will be responsible for marketing Desert Glory's Nature-Sweet tomatoes. Ambelang said distribution is primarily in Texas and in the Northwest, but the company has aggressive expansion plans that will add West Coast markets in 1999.
Ambelang said Richards has been charged with building the Nature-Sweet brand and promoting it directly to consumers.
An agency representative said the shop has begun work on research and strategy development and will be responsible for advertising coinciding with the rollout to new markets.
Desert Glory's tomatoes are distributed through the H.E. Butt, Whole Foods and Kroger grocery chains, among others. The company, founded eight years ago, operates growing locations in San Antonio and Guadalajara, Mexico.
Richards brings category experience to bear for its assignment. It handled advertising for nine years for Tom Thumb supermarkets (now at Fogarty Klein & Partners, Houston) and earlier this year was awarded branding chores for the San Antonio-based H.E. Butt grocery stores.
Richards is also agency of record for the Florida Department of Citrus. It was awarded that $27 million account without a review in 1996 after the client left Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York. Richards had finished as a runner-up to APL in the client's previous review.