General Mills Launches a Closed U.S. Creative and Content Agency Review

Includes McCann and Saatchi & Saatchi

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Multinational food manufacturing giant General Mills has launched a comprehensive review affecting all of its creative and content agency relationships in the United States. The company, which includes such brands as Cheerios, Yoplait, Quaker Oats, Häagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Annie's and more, is one of America's largest single advertisers.

"We have a responsibility to ensure we have the right agency partners to continue growing our business and agency reviews are a routine part of running a successful business today," a General Mills representative said in a statement today.

Details regarding the review remain sparse. The company's primary U.S. creative agencies are currently IPG's McCann Worldgroup and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, but in the past 18 months alone General Mills has added Fallon, 72andSunny, JWT and Wieden + Kennedy to its roster in varied roles.

The review would appear to be a move toward consolidation on the part of GM, which has been working to cut operational costs across its global organization. Last week, The Wall Street Journal and other publications reported that the company planned to eliminate at least 1,400 jobs across its offices in the U.S., Brazil and China, citing a reduced demand for products such as canned soup across its increasingly health-conscious consumer base. WSJ described this latest round of cuts as "part of a yearslong effort to slash expenses" which is in keeping with similar moves by competitors like Mondelez International.

Sources with direct knowledge of the matter tell Adweek today that the closed review will likely include McCann, Saatchi & Saatchi and an unnamed WPP agency.

Saatchi & Saatchi has been a GM partner agency for more than 35 years. McCann has also worked on brands like Nature Valley and Hamburger Helper for some time, and in 2013 it won Pillsbury away from Saatchi in what a representative described as "a vote of confidence" from the client.

JWT also recently joined the General Mills roster to handle the Häagen-Dazs brand, while the company brought Wieden + Kennedy aboard last year as agency of record for Yoplait. It is unclear whether either of these agencies are participating in the review.

Representatives at McCann and Saatchi & Saatchi declined to comment for this story, while JWT, Wieden + Kennedy, 72andSunny and Fallon had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Last year, General Mills launched its first media review in more than a decade, eventually choosing WPP's Mindshare as its U.S. agency of record. The company spent just under $700 million on measured media in 2015 and $186 million in the first quarter of 2016, according to the most recent numbers available from Kantar Media. These totals mark a decline from 2014, when General Mills spent a total of $850 million.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.