Russell Stover brings on FleishmanHillard as first comms AOR

The chocolate and candy maker picked Fleishman to help it go "full steam ahead" on digital, social media, and PR.

KANSAS CITY, MO: Russell Stover Candies has selected FleishmanHillard as its first communications AOR in its nearly 100-year history.

The company was acquired by Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Sprungli in 2014.

Alex Levine, Russell Stover’s brand communications manager, said the company began working with Fleishman last Thursday following an RFP process that began in October. The Omnicom Group agency beat out finalist Edelman for the account, a source familiar with the matter told PRWeek.

Russell Stover owns three brands – Russell Stover, Whitman's, and Pangburn's Chocolates – but Fleishman’s work will focus on the Russell Stover brand.

Fleishman is tasked with helping Russell Stover go "full steam ahead" on social media, digital, and PR, said Maxine Winer, senior partner and GM of Fleishman’s Chicago office.

Until recently, Russell Stover has had little presence on social media, TV, and in print. The company’s Facebook page, for instance, was only launched in November.

"It is exciting because Russell Stover is a heritage brand that is in a way just getting started in terms of marketing in the integrated way that everyone is marketing now," said Winer. "We will be creating content for them to help the company share its story with its loyal customer base."

Jason Miller, Fleishman’s VP of social and digital strategy, is leading the account from the firm’s Chicago office. Staffers from Fleishman’s office in Kansas City and its St. Louis headquarters will also assist.

"We are so excited to be working with such an iconic brand," said Winer. "They have been around almost 100 years and have done incredibly well without any formal marketing, so we can’t imagine how fantastic this is going to be now that we are partnering together."

Budget information was not disclosed; the contract length is being negotiated.

Lindt became the third-biggest chocolate-seller in the US after acquiring Russell Stover in 2014 for about $1.6 billion. However, some analysts have pointed out Russell Stover has achieved historic rises below the company average, but is a key part of Lindt’s rapid push into the North American market, according to Reuters.

An Edelman representative couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

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