Kroger Names Dentsu Aegis Network Team as First Integrated Media Agency of Record

A fresh@dentsu unit, led by 360i, will handle the $180 million account

Kroger and Dentsu Aegis Network logos
Kroger spent over $179 million across measured media channels last year. Kroger, Dentsu Aegis Network

Kroger has selected a dedicated fresh@dentsu Dentsu Aegis Network unit led out of 360i as its first integrated media agency of record (AOR), following a review.

360i had previously worked with Kroger in a performance capacity and supporting some social media, 360i chief media officer Doug Rozen explained.

“We’re really excited and honored to be working with Kroger in an even greater capacity. They are at an interesting crossroads with consumer behavior right now. They have an amazing path to their transformation, unique data and an understanding of how consumers behave,” he said. “We get to marry that to all the activation possibilities on the media side. Kroger recently announced a partnership with Roku, and we’re excited to look at other possibilities for partnerships.”

The appointment comes a little less than a year after Kroger selected Omnicom’s DDB New York as its first creative agency of record, following a review. In November, DDB New York debuted a new “Fresh For Everyone” brand positioning in its first work for the brand.

“What excites us is how we can bring their new brand proposition to life, how we can make sure that ‘Fresh For Everyone’ is being delivered on, and Kroger’s mission to feed the human spirit is a powerful opportunity,” Rozen added.

Kay Vizon, director of media at Kroger, explained that the review was quite competitive and included incumbents Active and Evergreen, as well as five other agencies. Vizon said the review process kicked off before the pandemic hit the U.S., but once the impact of the coronavirus took effect, the brand realized it would have to upend the process and conduct the review via videoconference.

Vizon explained that the fresh@dentsu team stood out because they “demonstrated the strongest understanding of audience-based media buying and planning, are leaders in the identity space through their M1 [data] platform and demonstrated an ability to activate across media at scale with fully integrated systems to drive competitive advantage for us.”

“They far exceeded our expectations, even with our current scope of work, and understood our vision to feed the human spirit and make fresh food available to all,” she said, also citing fresh@dentsu for the quality of their team, their cultural fit and the “tremendous buying power nationally and locally” Dentsu Aegis Network can provide, which she said will allow Kroger to save on media costs, which it can reinvest in further marketing initiatives.

Vizon described selecting an integrated media agency of record as a “logical next step” for Kroger as it moves further toward more audience-based media buying and planning, something she said has been facilitated by rapid changes to the media landscape in recent years, which allow the brand to more directly engage with customers.

Asked about recent sentiment around the brand suitability of media outlets, including brands boycotting Facebook, she said that Kroger is devoted to values inclusive of all its customers.

“We feel it is the right time to develop a framework to guide media investments to ensure greater diversity and alignment with our principles. We are partnering with the fresh@dentsu team and engaged with Facebook to actively align with our expectations and best practices,” she claimed, adding that Kroger seeks to align with its media partners to combat “racism and injustice” and “Facebook should be no exception.”

Kroger spent over $179 million across measured media channels last year and a little over $38 million in the first quarter of 2020, according to Kantar Media.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.