Quaker Oats puts PR under review

PepsiCo's Quaker Oats subsidiary shifted its PR business from Edelman to sister agency Zeno Group in 2014.

CHICAGO: PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats is reviewing its PR business, the company said this week.

A company spokesperson confirmed Quaker is reviewing PR agencies, but declined to provide other information.

"From time to time, we evaluate our agency support in order to ensure that we’re pushing our creative thinking, considering diverse perspectives, and efficiently driving results for our business," the spokesperson said, via email.

PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats brand shifted its PR business from Edelman to sister agency Zeno Group in 2014. A Zeno representative deferred inquiries seeking comment to the client when asked if the firm is still Quaker’s PR AOR. Burns declined to comment on the company’s relationship with Zeno.

At the start of 2012, Edelman launched a standalone agency after winning the Kellogg business to avoid potential client conflicts, particularly those with Quaker. The spinoff agency, which worked exclusively with Kellogg, was first named The K Group Public Relations Company and then Krispr.

Edelman’s website lists Kellogg as Krispr’s client, noting that it works with Special K, Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies, Morningstar Farms, and Cheez-it.

Before hiring Edelman, Kellogg initially selected Weber Shandwick and sister agency Current in 2011 to lead PR for its U.S. brands. However, the firms had to resign their roles due to possible conflicts within parent company Interpublic Group.

PepsiCo is also facing a lawsuit alleging its Quaker subsidiary engaged in false advertising after traces of an herbicide called glyphosate were found in some of its products.

The suit, which is seeking class-action status, was filed on behalf of New York and California consumers, according to The New York Times. It alleged three products reneged on the brand’s "100% natural" pledge: Quick 1-Minute, Quaker Oats Old-Fashioned, and Quaker Steel Cut Oats.

Quaker stood by the ingredients in its products in a statement issued to the media, saying it does not add glyphosate during any part of the milling process and that all oats it receives are cleansed.

Quaker also began recalling granola bars last month due to listeria concerns.

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