Hershey Shifts to Arnold, NCP

NEW YORK Hershey said it has tapped Havas’ Arnold and independent North Castle Partners as lead creative agencies on its U.S. confectionery and snack businesses without a review.

The client in Hershey, Pa., spent about $155 million on ads last year and nearly $100 million through the first half of 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. (One source pegged Arnold’s share at roughly two-thirds of the overall business.)

The work had previously been handled mainly by WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather (which had Hershey’s Kisses and Reese’s) and Omnicom Group’s DDB (which worked on Kit Kat and the namesake Hershey bar, among others), both in New York.

Arnold’s office in New York will now craft integrated advertising and marketing programs for the Hershey’s, Reese’s, Hershey’s Kisses, Take 5, York and Kit Kat brands, the client said.

Ogilvy had been a Hershey roster agency for 35 years, but last fall it landed global confectionery business from Kraft Foods (at the expense of sister shop Y&R), creating what appeared to be a conflict with Hershey.

“We have had a long and successful partnership with Hershey and have helped build some of their strongest and biggest brands. We are proud of our work, the longevity of our relationship and wish Hershey all the success in the marketplace,” said Bill Gray, CEO of Ogilvy & Mather North America, in a statement.

Tom Hernquist, president of Hershey’s U.S. confectionery business, said in a statement, “I want to thank Ogilvy & Mather for all they have done to help create sales growth momentum and for the contributions they have made to our business on some of our key brands.”

Said Peter Hempel, president of DDB in New York: “We are very proud of our accomplishments with Hershey’s, and we wish them continued success.” DDB had worked with the client since 1978.

In addition, North Castle Partners in Stamford, Conn., already a roster shop, adds Hershey’s refreshment and sugar confectionery brands, including Ice Breakers, Twizzlers and Jolly Rancher; and snack brands, including Hershey’s Cookies and Snack Barz; and the newly acquired Scharffen Berger and Joseph Schmidt premium chocolate brands.

“The changes we are implementing will help Hershey further build its brands and drive growth by connecting with consumers across a full range of touch points and media, including the Internet, public relations, consumer promotions and interactive communications,” said Hernquist.

Sources said Arnold’s ties to the client (mainly through John Staffen, its New York executive creative director who had worked on the account at DDB) helped that agency pick up its share of the Hershey’s assignment.

The assignment comes at a fortuitous time for Arnold, which is preparing to lose the $400 million Volkswagen account, its largest piece of business. VW is moving to MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in December.

Hershey’s media planning will now be handled by Havas’ MPG in New York. Buying remains at Omnicom’s OMD.