Sara Lee explains name change to investors, employees

DOWNERS GROVE, IL: Sara Lee is reaching out to investors and employees through events and social media to explain its name change to Hillshire Brands Company.

DOWNERS GROVE, IL: Sara Lee is reaching out to investors and employees through events and social media to explain its name change to Hillshire Brands Company.

Sara Lee unveiled the new name and logo on Tuesday at an “investor day” in New York. Edelman Chicago and marketing agency MJM Creative Services helped with the event, which was attended by 200 analysts, investors, and media representatives. MWW Group, the Sara Lee brand's AOR since 2005, is not working with the company on its outreach to investors and employees.

The investor meeting went beyond financial presentations to include creative demonstrations of brand experiences, such as showing visits to an Italian butcher shop or a gourmet kitchen, said Jon Harris, SVP and CCO at Sara Lee.  

The company also launched a website, posted about the name change on its corporate Facebook page and Twitter account, and sent out a press release. It will host an event for employees on Thursday at its corporate headquarters in Downers Grove, IL.

Sara Lee's target audience is the business community, so the company does not plan to take out advertisements or develop an extensive social media strategy to communicate with consumers, Harris said.

Sara Lee will split into two companies on June 28: Hillshire Brands Company, which will include its meat and frozen baked goods brands, and DE Master Blenders 1753, a coffee and tea business that will be based overseas. Sara Lee products will still exist under the Hillshire umbrella, Harris said.

Sara Lee hired Sean Connolly as CEO of Hillshire in January. Harris will run communications for the company, and Mike Cummins will serve as head of corporate communications.

Michiel Quarles van Ufford, VP of international communications at Sara Lee, is the acting communications head for DE Master Blenders 1753. The company has begun a search for a permanent head of communications, according to Cummins.

The company considered more than 3,500 names before deciding on Hillshire Brands because of its familiarity to consumers, Harris said. Hillshire Farm-branded meats are a billion dollar product line for the company, though sales have declined in recent years, he added.

The response to the change from investors and employees has been positive, Harris explained.

“We got applause at the investors' meeting,” Harris said. “It's already a recognizable name that stands for trusted, quality products. We didn't feel that any other name would resonate as strongly.”

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