Pinnacle Foods Shuffles Agency Deck

Pinnacle Foods has selected new agencies to handle creative duties on its lines of dry grocery goods and frozen foods, respectively, after a review, sources said.
Omnicom Group’s BBDO in New York will handle duties on grocery brands such as Duncan Hines, Vlasic, Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth’s, while MDC Partners’ Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners in New York will handle frozen-food brands such as Birds Eye, Hungry-Man, Mrs. Paul’s and Swanson, according to sources. Revenue on each account is estimated at $1-2 million.
Major media spending on both the grocery and frozen-foods brands totaled about $25 million last year and $8-9 million through April 2010, per Nielsen, excluding online outlays.
The other finalists for the dry-goods business were SapientNitro in New York and the incumbent, Omnicom Group’s Merkley + Partners in New York, said sources. Neither BBDO nor SapientNitro was on Pinnacle’s creative roster, but each had worked with Pinnacle CEO Bob Gamgort when he was North American president of Mars. Gamgort replaced Jeffrey Ansell as Pinnacle CEO in July 2009.
Sources identified the other finalists for the frozen-foods account as Havas’ Arnold in New York and the primary incumbent, Interpublic Group’s Draftfcb in New York. Northlich in Cincinnati and Merkley also had handled parts of the business.
The selections come about a month after final presentations. Pinnacle also reviewed media planning and buying duties but the winner of that contest could not be ascertained. Merkley handled most of the media planning duties and buying was split among several shops.
The agencies either declined to comment or could not be reached.
A rep at the Mountain Lakes, N.J.-based company, said only, “No decision has been made.”
Dick Helstein, a former advertising director at Kraft Foods who is based in Darien, Conn., is said to have managed the process.