3 Vie for ConAgra’s $100 Mil. in Media

Grocery Marketer Following a Cost-Cutting Path Trodden by Heinz
NEW YORK–ConAgra, the food and grocery products marketer, is conducting a review to consolidate media duties on its estimated $100 million ad account, sources said.
The client is seeking to combine its business at one agency, sources said.
Three shops, both on and off the roster, are believed to be participating in the Omaha, Neb.-based agricultural giant’s search. Presentations, which sources expect will begin this week, will involve SFM Media, Grey Advertising’s MediaCom and Carat MBS, all New York.
Creative assignments, divided among a host of shops, are not believed to be affected by the pitch.
ConAgra’s media buying duties are currently scattered among multiple agencies: SFM handles Hunt-Wesson; MediaCom is responsible for an undisclosed number of brands. Grey handles creative duties for such products as Hebrew National Kosher Foods, Healthy Choice, Marie Callender sauces, Butterball Turkeys, Fleischmann, Parkay, and Blue Bonnet margarines.
MediaCom declined comment. SFM and Carat could not be reached by press time. The client did not return calls seeking comment.
Campbell Mithun Esty in Minneapolis, which handles creative for Van Camp’s and Armour Swift-Eckrich, is not involved in the pitch, sources said. Nor is Euro RSCG Tatham in Chicago, which handles creative for some Hunt-Wesson brands.
ConAgra’s stable of supermarket nameplates also includes Orville Reddenbacher popcorn, and frozen food brands Banquet and Kid Cuisine. The company has been squeezed by lower-priced rivals and inroads made by home-meal replacement offerings.
Like other food industry giants, such as Kellogg’s, H.J. Heinz and Campbell Soup, it has been trying to refocus on major brands. Last summer, ConAgra reorganized its business units to this end.
Grocery clients are also seeking new ideas from their shops, and re-examining agency relationships. ConAgra shifted some $40 million in creative chores on Healthy Choice to Grey from CME, also last summer.
Elsewhere, Heinz in Pittsburgh is holding a global review for the $20-25 million account of its convenience meals division with Bates USA and J. Walter Thompson, both in New York and Foote, Cone & Belding and Leo Burnett in Chicago.
Heinz gave its estimated $50 million global ketchup business to Burnett last year, while Kellogg recently tapped The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., for a new task after reviewing its roster shops, including Burnett and JWT.
–with Stephanie Thompson