Merkley Expands Pinnacle Biz

NEW YORK Merkley + Partners, a Pinnacle Foods roster shop that handles creative duties on three brands, has added media planning duties for all Pinnacle lines, the Omnicom Group agency said.

The brands include Aunt Jemima, Duncan Hines, Hungry Man, Mrs. Butterworth’s, Van de Kamp, Vlasic and Mrs. Paul’s.

Billings on the assignment were not disclosed. All told, Pinnacle spent nearly $25 million in major measured media last year and about $27 million in the first eight months of 2008, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Previously, the business was handled by sister media shop PHD, which retains media buying duties across the portfolio. The shift, which took effect Sept. 1, occurred without a review.

“By consolidating media planning with Merkley, we anticipate even greater integration between communications development and deployment that will give our brands a stronger presence in the marketplace,” said Bill Toler, president of Pinnacle Foods Group in Mountain Lakes, N.J.

Merkley, a New York shop, joined Pinnacle’s roster in early 2007 when it landed creative duties on Aunt Jemima, Duncan Hines and Mrs. Butterworth’s.

Other Pinnacle creative agencies include Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco, which handles Hungry Man, Vlasic, Van de Kamp’s and Mrs. Paul’s, and independent Nelson Henry in Minneapolis, which works on Armour meats and Lender’s bagels.

Merkley’s 32-person media department also handles media planning duties on Mercedes-Benz USA, Axa Equitable, Prevacid and PSEG.