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General Mills hand their shopper-marketing account to 5 WPP agencies

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General Mills, whose shopper-marketing was until now handled by a handful of independent shops, recently announced that it had consolidated its duties within a team of 5 WPP owned agencies. According to Brian Kittelson, company's director of shopper marketing, the food products giant believes the move will put an “Increased focus on shopper marketing,” which will assist them “In building truly differentiated shopper plans geared to accelerate growth” for their brands (which include Cheerios, Yoplait and Better Crocker) and retail partners. There is also expected to be a greater focus on e-commerce, a realm in which WPP's agencies have vast experience.

The move comes as GM shuffle their leadership ranks, with CMO Mark Addicks retiring next year to be replaced by Ann Simonds

The selected agencies are thought to be Geometry Global, Rockfish, Kantar Retail, Bravo and Barrows, shops which will “Provide e-commerce, multi-cultural, display and shopper insights and advertising support for General Mills brands from a creative and digital hub in Minneapolis and regional offices in key retail markets.” General Mills (GM) is the 44th largest ad spender in the US, with a spend of $894.2 million last year. Creative advertising duties are handled primarily by the Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi and the Interpublic Group's McCann Erickson. The move comes as GM shuffle their leadership ranks, with CMO Mark Addicks retiring next year to be replaced by Ann Simonds, who is currently president of GM's baking products division.

General Mills – Happiness First

Large packaged-food companies such as GM currently exist in a state of flux as the struggle to find the right balance of traditional advertising, merchandising and shopper-marketing support. They are also operating at a time where e-commerce is playing a significantly greater role, with companies like Amazon investing heavily in online grocery shopping. There is also the advent of the smartphone to consider, with many modern shoppers using their phones to research to products on the physical store shelves. As a result, smaller, independent brands are gradually overtaking the big boys, as consumer preferences shift with the times. Shawn O'Grady, senior vice president for sales and channel development at GM, said “The amount of quality merchandising support, which includes retailer advertisements and in-store displays, has increased as retailers compete for more growth.” However, he feels this increased frequency of events means that the consumer is getting saturated with offers, so that the effectiveness of that merchandising has declined."

GM is the 44th largest ad spender in the US, with a spend of $894.2 million last year. Creative advertising duties are handled primarily by Saatchi & Saatchi and McCann Erickson

O'Grady said his company's strategy to combat this market saturation is to “Make sure that merchandising is tightly focused on the largest and most powerful brands.” He also adds that when they “Provide merchandising around themes that customers care about and create in-store excitement with advertising and displays,” they generally generate around “Two times to three times the sales volume” than if there had been no merchandising.He believes that partnering with retailers on “A tighter, more focused approach is the way to win as we go forward.”

Official WPP Website

Official General Mills Website

Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and Cheerios enthusiast from Kidderminster in the UK.

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