H.J. Heinz Serves Media to Ames

Planning Assignment Involves Boston Market Frozen Dinners
ATLANTA–H.J. Heinz Co. has awarded Ames Scullin O’Haire media planning responsibilities for the introduction of a new line of Boston Market frozen food entrƒes.
Adweek’s Western edition reported last week that the San Francisco office of DDB won the estimated $10-15 million advertising account following a review of undisclosed agencies nationwide.
This week the Pittsburgh-based client assigned the account’s media planning to Ames.
“We were aware that we were one of the [four] finalists,” said John Ames, managing director at the Atlanta agency. “We were excited about just being selected to compete against such large international agencies.”
Ames referred questions about annual billings to the client. Calls to Heinz’s vice president of business development and acting general manager of frozen foods management, Jay Abraham, were not returned at press time late last week.
Heinz initially asked for credentials from 12 agencies, but quickly narrowed that list to four finalists, according to sources. Those four contenders each made creative presentations to the client.
DDB already handles creative duties for Heinz’s Weight Watchers and Budget Gourmet lines of frozen entrƒes.
Suissa Miller, the Los Angeles-based lead agency for the 850-unit Boston Market restaurant chain, was not involved in the review. Leo Burnett, Chicago, lead shop for Heinz, was not a contender because Burnett client McDonald’s viewed the Boston Market-branded dinners as a conflict, said one source.
In April, Heinz announced it had filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Arizona seeking approval to license Boston Market trademarks for retail trade use. Parent company Boston Chicken of Golden, Colo., entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last October.
Heinz’s request was approved by the court in June. As part of a 10-year agreement, Heinz will pay Boston Chicken an undisclosed royalty fee based on retail sales.
Separately, Boston Market Acquisition Co., a leveraged-buyout group in Dallas led by investor Jacob C. Baum, recently made an offer to purchase most of Boston Chicken’s assets for $105 million in cash and the assumption of $35 million in liabilities. A buyout will not affect Heinz’s licensing pact with Boston Chicken, sources said.