Del Monte Division Signs Up Maiden Lane

SAN FRANCISCO Del Monte Foods’ New Ventures Group has selected Maiden Lane as the first lead marketing agency for the division, which was formed here in 2005.

The group’s mission is to launch products under the Del Monte and StarKist brands, reach out to new customers and explore product categories, said Barry Shepard, svp, marketing and innovation.

The group is planning to launch a new product regionally this month, with a national rollout over the summer.

The account was awarded after a review, said Christine Huang, CMO at Maiden Lane. Contenders were undisclosed. Projected annual ad spending is estimated at $8-10 million, per sources.

“We are impressed with Maiden Lane’s strategic ideas, fully-integrated approach and the energy that they bring to our business,” Shepard said.

Del Monte is a producer, distributor and marketer of packaged foods and pet products, such as canned vegetables. Like many companies in the category, it is making a push into the healthy eating arena.

Huang called the new division “open-minded” and willing to “speak the language of total integration.” She said the agency intends to ” take the Del Monte and StarKist brands into a new era.”

Thursday Del Monte reported its fiscal third-quarter profit dipped 10 percent, as expenses rose and sales volumes fell. Its core product line continues to feel pressure from private label competition, said analysts.

Maiden Lane here is an independent shop offering a mix of traditional, non-traditional and digital advertising. Other clients include The Michelin Guide, Examiner Newspapers, Fathead, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, Delta Dental and Fisher-Price.