U.S. Peanut Farmers Reduce Field to Semifinalists

Two finalists in the race for the National Peanut Board’s marketing business will be named this week.
The field has narrowed dramatically since the Atlanta-based trade association, representing some 10,000 U.S. peanut farmers, issued a request for proposal last May for what was billed as a $10 million advertising, public relations and promotions account Of the approximately 90 advertising and specialty agencies that responded, six ad agencies remain in the running, four of them still unnamed.
Three so-called “sponsors,” looking for funding for short-term projects, are also under consideration.
Sources close to the review have confirmed three semifinalists as Eisner Communications in Baltimore, Mithoff Burton & Partners in El Paso, Texas, and Long Haymes Carr in Winston-Salem, N.C.
At week’s end, however, there were indications that Long Haymes Carr would not participate in presentations being made to the board this week.
According to sources involved in the review, the process, a first for the association, has been unwieldy at best, unprofessional at worst.
No outside consultancy was employed. Mitch Head, general manager of the board, passed incoming proposals to the 10 farmers representing the Deep South, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico who make up the group. The farmers were instructed to award stars to their favorites.
“We assembled everybody’s top 10 and got 30 proposals,” said Head. “Then a five-member committee reviewed the list. It was clear that 10 agencies and sponsors got most of the votes.”
Sources said the $10 million in billings is overstated, as much of the board’s seed money (one percent of the $1 billion annual U.S. peanut harvest) is being spent on research and overseas marketing efforts.