Fleishman pulls consumer potato work from Ketchum

DENVER: The US Potato Promotion Board has handed its nearly $1 million consumer account to Fleishman-Hillard, breaking Ketchum's lock on the board's PR work. Ketchum, which has worked with the board for 30 years, will continue to handle food-service and issues-management work.

DENVER: The US Potato Promotion Board has handed its nearly $1 million consumer account to Fleishman-Hillard, breaking Ketchum's lock on the board's PR work. Ketchum, which has worked with the board for 30 years, will continue to handle food-service and issues-management work.

The board will focus on myriad issues for the new year, most important of which is teaching consumers that there's more to that big brown mound of spuds they see at the store than meets the eye.

"We want to change the industry, and make sure it is meeting consumer needs," said Linda McCashion, VP of PR. "Potatoes are not a one-size-fits-all food. It differentiates according to lifestyle and meal occasion.

There's more to it than potatoes being the most consumed vegetable. It's also about the many varieties, and what you can do with them."

The potato board also faces challenges on the health front, from critics of carbohydrate-heavy diets to an increasingly obese American population that is fond of French fries and potato chips.

"It's frustrating when you think of all the people in the world who have lived primarily on rice, corn, and potatoes, and have flourished," said McCashion. "It's about changing a mindset, about how people view, cook, and eat potatoes."

As for why the board selected Fleishman for the account, "it was strategic," explained McCashion. "These things I've been talking about, their recommendations responded to that."

"The primary issue is to get people to buy more and eat more potatoes," said John Segale, SVP and GM of Fleishman's Sacramento office. "It's about getting people to see beyond that 10-pound bag of potatoes. The market has been very good to potatoes, but there's an ongoing battle for share of stomach."

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