LOS ANGELES The president of Sara Lee's U.S. retail business visited Omnicom Group's TBWA\Chiat\Day this week after the firm had awarded its $40 million Ball Park Franks and Jimmy Dean account to the agency [Adweek Online, Feb. 2].
"We were already friendly because of a long relationship," said Ellen Turner, from Sara Lee's Cincinnati headquarters, who had awarded the Playa del Rey, Calif., agency the Weather Channel and Kinko's business. "We started looking a year ago at where these brands need to live. We didn't feel we were doing a good job of growing the brands, both in terms of revenue growth and market share. We were looking for the right strategic partner."
Turner said that "Ball Park, Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farms and Sara Lee can all be iconic brands. There's cool in their DNA."
"We have a good foundation in packaged goods," said TBWA\C\D president Robert LePlae, who has helped build the agency's business in the category. The shop also handles creative for Energizer, Uncle Ben's Rice and Shell brands including Pennzoil. In January, it added the $60 million Pedigree account to a portfolio that already included Masterfoods' Whiskas cat food.
"These are solid, stable businesses with compelling, relevant brands," LePlae said of the Sara Lee accounts. "They need a bigger consumer pipeline. They're latent, sitting on the surface, waiting to break out."
LePlae said the company's recent success at winning packaged-goods accounts such as Sara Lee is the result of the agency "bringing a cannon to a knife fight. We used full-blown Tequila [integrated marketing] work, and [media agency] OMD was involved heavily, as was Porter Novelli for promotion and loyalty programs, and internal marketing."
Turner said the agency's "brand-positioning work was dead-on with the work we were doing. When we brought our research to the first meeting, they had done the work."
The first work from the agency is expected in April or May. Turner said the products would get a significant makeover, from package designs to new media channels.