ConAgra Shuffles Deck

CHICAGO ConAgra said it has moved its nearly $20 million Healthy Choice account from Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett to Nitro Group. The company is also reviewing other brands, said client representative Tania Graves.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure our brands are aligned with the right agencies [so] they get the optimal support,” said Graves, who declined to specify which assignments are in review.

Sources said Chef Boyardee (with billings of $20 million) and Pam and Reddi Wip ($15 million each), all handled by Burnett, are believed to be in play.

Burnett in Chicago declined comment and referred questions to ConAgra, as did Nitro, an independent shop in New York.

ConAgra’s list of roster agencies is extensive. In addition to Burnett, those shops include MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami (which handles Orville Redenbacher and Slim Jim, among others), Omnicom Group’s DDB in San Francisco (Banquet), Interpublic Group’s OneSeven (Hebrew National) and independent Fogarty Klein Monroe in Houston (Hunt’s, Ro-Tel and Wolf).

Of those brands, Banquet and Orville Redenbacher received the most ad support, tallying $35 million and $20 million respectively in 2005 paid media expenditures, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

All told, ConAgra spent $175 million last year on domestic ads.

In recent months, the Omaha, Neb., company’s marketing department has made several key personnel changes. Most notably, Gary Rodkin joined the company as president and CEO last October from PepsiCo with a mission to revitalize brands and take advantage of healthier eating trends [Brandweek, Sept. 1, 2005].

With Rodkin’s appointment, the company ceased working with Atlanta-based marketing consultant Sergio Zyman, who was brought in by previous CEO Bruce Rhode. Zyman had a hand in placing many of ConAgra’s brands at their current agencies, particularly those at Burnett, according to sources.