J.M. Smucker Company Consolidates U.S. Creative and Media Business With Publicis

WPP and IPG pitched for the account

Grey won creative duties on Smucker's in 2002. Getty Images

The J.M. Smucker Company has concluded a holding company-based review by assigning both creative and media work for many of its best-known U.S. brands to Publicis Groupe.

According to multiple sources with knowledge of the matter, the product lines involved include the company’s many jams, jellies and peanut butters, as well as Folgers and Millstone coffees and those that formerly fell under Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, maker of the Rachael Ray lines of dog and cat foods.

WPP and IPG pitched against Publicis for the business, these individuals say.

It is unclear whether Dentsu’s Carat, which won the J.M. Smucker U.S. media business in early 2016, was invited to defend. It is also unclear which Publicis shops participated in the pitch, largely because it proceeded according to the company’s “Power of One” cross-agency approach.

The selection concludes a relationship with Grey that dated back to 2002, when the agency took over for Chicago Creative Partnership without a review. It also follows the company’s late 2016 decision to consolidate the digital portion of its marketing business with Publicis’ SapientRazorfish (which has reportedly been folded into the company’s Publicis.Sapient division).

According to one party close to the matter, the review launched after the summer promotion of Geoff Tanner to svp of growth and consumer engagement, or the equivalent of the CMO role within the company.

Tanner previously served as vp of marketing at Big Heart Pet Brands, which split from Del Monte to be acquired by J.M. Smucker in 2015.

Grey referred a request for comment to the client. Spokespeople for Publicis, IPG and Sapient declined to comment, and a Dentsu representative has not yet responded to a related email and phone call.

In a statement issued after this story went live, J.M. Smucker confirmed that it will be consolidating “the majority of its marketing business” in the U.S. with Publicis Groupe, adding that the move complements the company’s prior restructuring of its internal marketing organization.

Publicis will bring together talent from across its agency roster to create three dedicated teams to support J.M. Smucker company’s three major business units.

“We are thrilled to have a business partner the caliber of Publicis so invested in the success of our business,” Tanner said in the statement. “The introduction of a single holding company partner allows us to truly embed them into our business, both at a strategic and an operational level.”

In the U.S., J.M. Smucker Company spent over $170 million across all its brands last year and over $64 million in the first six months of 2018, according to Kantar Media.

The Ainsworth acquisition, framed as a “prioritization of key growth categories” when the deal was signed in April, brought a considerable amount of new revenue into the company portfolio. One source estimated that more than 50 percent of J.M. Smucker’s profits now come from pet foods.

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.
@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.