OMD Adds Hershey Planning

NEW YORK Hershey has awarded media planning duties for key brands such as its namesake Hershey Bar, Kisses and Take 5 to Omnicom Group’s OMD here without a review, according to sources.

OMD already handled the client’s buying chores and continues to do so.

The incumbent was Havas’ MPG here, which won the business a year and a half ago, at the same time the candy maker awarded creative duties on the brands to sibling shop Arnold, Boston, and independent North Castle Partners in Stamford, Conn.

Hershey spent $95 million in domestic measured media in 2006, down nearly 30 percent from the previous year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Sources said Arnold and NCP keep creative chores and that no review is presently planned for their portions of the business.

MPG referred questions to the client, where representative Kirk Saville did not return calls. Agency executives couldn’t be reached for comment.

The switch came as a surprise to MPG executives, because the most recent evaluation of the shop’s work was extremely positive, sources said.

One source said the client indicated the switch was being made because it was more “convenient” to have media planning and buying at the same shop, and that OMD was willing to do the planning assignment at a lower cost than MPG.

The Hershey, Pa.-based confectioner has come under fire lately from retailers who have complained that the company has launched too many modest-selling brand extensions (86 in the last half of 2006 alone). Profits in 2005 fell 16 percent and were below expectations for what company executives termed a “difficult year,” in 2006, increasing 4 percent. Sales this year will grow by just 3 to 4 percent, the company said.