Pinnacle Foods Shuffles Roster

SAN FRANCISCO Pinnacle Foods has divided creative duties on its estimated $40 million ad account among three shops: Omnicom Group’s Merkley + Partners, Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney and independent Nelson Henry.

New York-based Merkley landed the Duncan Hines, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Aunt Jemima brands, representing about $25 million in combined ad spending, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Riney here added the Hungry Man, Vlasic, Van de Kamp’s and Mrs. Paul’s Seafood brands, with combined spending of $10 million.

Nelson Henry in Minneapolis won Armour Meats and Lender’s Bagels, which spends about $5 million on ads.

Pinnacle lead agency Fogarty Klein Monroe, an independent agency based in Houston, competed in a review against those shops and possibly undisclosed others for the assignments.

Pinnacle’s media shop is Omnicom Group’s PHD; media was not part of the review.

Each winning agency will manage overall strategy, creative and brand stewardship for the respective brands and lead the development of consumer TV, print and interactive campaigns, according to the Mountain Lakes, N.J.-based company.

“We selected the strongest strategic thinking, the freshest creative ideas and the best teams to drive the growth of our iconic brands,” said Jeffrey Ansell, CEO of Pinnacle Foods.

Alex Gellert, CEO at Merkley, said the win gives the shop a “leading role in the packaged goods industry by partnering with a major industry player.”

For Riney, the win comes less than two weeks after Sprint Nextel, its largest account, went into review. The agency has been trying to attract more consumer-focused business, as evidenced by its Pinnacle win and recent selection for the Altoids ad assignment [Adweek Online, Jan. 5].

Pinnacle faces tough competition from industry leader ConAgra, maker of Healthy choice and Chef Boyardee products, which has promised to boost ad spending.