MARKET FOCUS FOOD & BEVERAGE: The days when food PR meant simply product mentions in newspaers are over - John Frank finds today’s game is about connecting with consumer lifestyles

Ancient Romans used to bandy about a popular saying - all roads lead to Rome. And not long ago, food PR people had a similar saying - all food PR leads to one place, newspaper food pages.

Ancient Romans used to bandy about a popular saying - all roads lead to Rome. And not long ago, food PR people had a similar saying - all food PR leads to one place, newspaper food pages.

Ancient Romans used to bandy about a popular saying - all roads

lead to Rome. And not long ago, food PR people had a similar saying -

all food PR leads to one place, newspaper food pages.



Product mentions in food pages would prompt consumers to buy items for

their nightly meal preparations, sales would go up and everyone would be

as happy as Roman cartography publishers.



But those simple food PR days are as passe as tablets of stone. These

days, food PR revolves around consumer lifestyles and food’s place

therein.



Food PR increasingly is selling product by making people feel good about

whatever is being promoted. That can mean tying in with local charities,

using celebrity spokespeople or pushing nutritional or other health

benefits in the growing ’functional food’ category.



And while much food PR still starts with newspaper food pages, today’s

media targets include lifestyle publications, television offerings like

the Today show and a wide range of gourmet outlets, both print and

broadcast.



PR is also being brought into the food marketing mix earlier than in the

past. ’Our clients in the old days wanted almost a supplement to their

advertising - today, they want PR to sell their product,’ says Robbie

Vorhaus, president of New York agency Vorhaus & Co., whose 1999 US food

and bev fee income increased an impressive 158% over 1998 to dollars 1.9

million (and the category leapt from half to three-quarters of the

agency’s business).



Many of the PR firms reporting food revenues to PRWeek for 1999 had

strong years. ’We are having to turn down quite a bit of business right

now,’ says Grace Leong, president of New York-based Hunter & Associates.

Hunter’s food PR income shot up 68% last year when it worked with such

clients as Kraft, Altoids, Jell-O and Nabisco. But, the category as a

whole showed a disappointing growth rate of only 2% in 1999.





Options in a changing climate



Food companies know they can’t mass-market advertise their way to sales

growth anymore. Television has fragmented their audiences, and the

marketplace itself has changed.



Few people have time anymore for making involved home-cooked meals every

night. A recent study by the research firm NPD Group found that 44% of

weekday meals are made in 30 minutes or less. Convenience isn’t just

desired, it’s demanded in today’s time-constricted world. At the same

time, though, many people are becoming gourmets in their time off on

weekends. ’There’s a big divide between the weekend and what we do

during the week,’ comments Betsy Gullickson, a partner and director of

the global food and nutrition practice at number-one food agency

Ketchum.



Gourmet cooking has taken on a celebrity tinge thanks to the Food

Network and a wide range of celebrity chefs. ’Consumers seem enamored

with celebrity chefs,’ says Bernice Newman, a senior counselor in Morgan

& Myers’ Minneapolis office. Roughly 80% of that office’s business is

food-related.



Another trend also is reshaping the business. Major food companies are

merging in record numbers (the latest was Kraft’s acquisition of

Nabisco), trying to achieve economies of scale and more clout with the

supermarkets that sell their products. As food companies become larger,

creating a company image becomes more difficult, and the importance of

individual product-line PR increases. True, mergers might mean fewer PR

firms getting chances at being some food company’s agency of record. But

the surviving companies will devote more attention to marketing their

products - and that means more individual product PR opportunities. ’The

mergers, in the long run, I think will be good for food PR,’ says

Leong.



While the business waits to see if that’s the case, food PR is pushing

ahead with campaigns aimed at giving consumers positive feelings about

the products they buy. In some instances, that means stressing health

benefits. Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide has formed a new nutrition

and health group within its global marketing practice to concentrate on

functional foods, says Mark Curran, managing director of the marketing

practice. Last year, when Ogilvy was doing PR for calcium-added Minute

Maid products, it commissioned research on lactose intolerance and

garnered media attention for that, ’instead of just coming out with a

new product announcement,’ Curran explains.



Minute Maid was positioned as a milk alternative to get needed

calcium.



The campaign targeted Hispanics, a population prone to lactose

intolerance.



A Los Angeles press conference announced a planned Minute Maid donation

to a local Hispanic youth program.



Tying into local charities or causes is a major weapon food PR is using

to make people warm to various products. Fleishman-Hillard put together

a program called ’Art of the Harvest’ for a new line of Ocean Spray

juices after research found target consumers were art-conscious. The

program commissioned three photographers to create a photo exhibit of

pictures depicting cranberry harvests. The exhibit toured five key Ocean

Spray markets and was viewed by 475,000 people. Ocean Spray found sales

in those markets 12% higher than in non-exhibit markets.



Ketchum last year worked with retired Denver quarterback John Elway’s

wife on a campaign for its client, Kikkoman, that raised dollars 100,00

for the Elway Foundation. JSH&A, a suburban Chicago shop that has worked

with such clients as Boca Burger and McDonald’s, has convinced Oscar

Meyer to back a variety of women’s causes. ’Years ago we never would

have connected food with women’s issues - that would have seemed

negative,’ notes JSH&A president Janni Hegenderfer.





Transforming PR



Ted Smyth, SVP of corporate and government affairs communications with

Heinz, thinks food PR increasingly will use celebrities to help sell

products.



’What you’re looking for is transformation PR’ that gets a consumer

feeling positive about a product, Smyth says. ’Celebrity PR will be much

greater in the next two to three years. I look to PR to give me more and

more ideas about celebrities.’



Many already are hiring celebrities. Morgan & Myers used fitness guru

Richard Simmons as a spokesperson for its efforts on behalf of the

California Raisin Marketing Board last year. Vorhaus, working last year

for Russell Stover’s peanut butter and jelly cups, sent product samples

to Rosie O’Donnell, a PB&J fan, who plugged the offerings on her show.

Doug Dome, president of Chicago’s Dome Communications, is currently

working on signing a celebrity-athlete endorser for Orville Redenbacher

popcorn, which he works on for parent ConAgra. He’s also using soccer’s

Mia Hamm to push Dean Food’s Milk Chugs and held Dean events with the

St. Louis Cardinals when the product became available in that market

last year.



While causes and celebrities have become part of food PR, recipe-tied PR

still has its place. Publicis Dialog put together a ’recipes of the

century’ campaign last year for Nestle’s Carnation evaporated milk that

brought in entries from 15,000 consumers and got exposure on the Today

show, says Wendy Johnson, food brand group management director with

Publicis in Seattle.



Hunter holds an annual ’Cooks and Ladders’ cooking contest for McIlhenny

Co.’s Tabasco hot pepper sauce featuring firefighter-chefs; the event

has garnered coverage on CNN and in USA Today. Ketchum develops recipes

with celebrity chefs for Kikkoman’s soy sauce.



Knowing how the media address food issues also can lead to PR coups.



Dome garnered big media play earlier this year for Sara Lee’s Calzone

Creations, a hand-held food based on an old Italian specialty, by first

giving the story to the AP during the massive Food Marketing Institute’s

spring trade show in Chicago. The AP featured the product in a story

about how fat was back in American diets, which led to coverage in other

publications and on Good Morning America.



One PR standby, a good stunt, can still work for food PR, especially if

it ties into messages of convenience. Publicis this spring set up what

it dubbed the world’s largest salad bar in New York’s Central Park to

get press for client Hidden Valley Ranch’s 25th anniversary. The event

garnered 100 million media impressions.



Heinz captured what may be the biggest food PR splash so far this year

with its new green ketchup. The idea was developed in-house as a way to

promote a new Heinz squeeze bottle, Smyth relates, though it was

positioned and covered as a product aimed at kids. Word of the product

leaked at a trade show, and national press coverage followed. ’There is

a great receptivity among the public and new media for a genuine twist’

on an old standby like Heinz ketchup, Smyth says, adding he thinks green

ketchup has gotten ’more (media) hits than anything but Viagra.’



That’s something all food PR people would like to say for their

clients.



They’ll keep trying with a variety of campaigns tied to consumer

lifestyles and making people feel good about their client’s

offerings.





EAT, DRINK AND PROMOTE: TOP FOOD AND BEVERAGES PRACTICES


Ranking  Agency Name           Audit     Food income (dollars)    Growth

99  98                                        1999         1998        %

1   1    Ketchum                   *    25,750,000   25,100,000        3

2   4    BSMG                      *    14,722,399   12,918,571       14

3   3    Fleishman-Hillard         *    13,006,000   15,823,000      -18

4   2    Shandwick                 X    11,988,625   20,041,000      -40

5   5    Edelman                   *    10,866,432    8,523,126       27

6   6    Ogilvy                    X     4,132,000    4,033,000        2

7   7    Publicis Dialog           X     3,824,665    2,440,900       57

8   8    Hunter & Associates       X     2,646,200    1,571,164       68

9   9    Morgan & Meyers           *     2,537,408    1,490,000       70

10  12   Vorhaus & Co.             X     1,901,000      736,967      158

11  10   The MacKenzie Group       Y     1,650,000    1,390,000       19

12  11   Bragman Nyman             X     1,324,000      800,000       66

         Cafarelli

13  N/A  Dan Klores Associates     X     1,000,000          N/A      N/A

14  13   Hope-Beckman              X       957,158      666,479       44

15  41   Kupper Parker Comms.      *       840,546       72,900     1053

16  14   Patrice Tanaka & Co.      *       737,000      619,000       19

17  20   Richmond Public           X       643,700      339,666       90

         Relations

18  17   Richard French & Assoc    *       632,225      412,600       53

19  16   Dome Communications       X       575,000      465,000       24

20  15   Torme & Co.               X       511,148      515,928       -1

21  24   Price/McNabb              *       500,000      300,000       67

22  18   Stevens Baron Comms.      X       380,000      382,000       -1

23  21   Tattar Cutler             X       375,178      335,850       12

24  23   DuDell & Associates       *       348,344      304,503       14

25  N/A  Charleston/Orwig          *       315,444          N/A      N/A

26  22   Eric Mower and Assoc.     *       305,597      304,503        0

27  48   Strat@comm                *       298,245       15,000     1888

28  26   The Headline Group        X       288,000      244,100       18

29  N/A  LaForce & Stevens         Y       286,488          N/A      N/A

30  30   JSH & A                   *       285,000      200,000       43

31  19   Schneider & Associates    Y       264,587      356,210      -26

32  25   Lane Marketing Comms.     X       263,766      278,828       -5

33  36   Tunheim Group             X       250,000      120,000      108

34  31   Dublin & Associates       *       246,655      190,099       30

35  34   Emmanuel Kerr Kilsby      *       200,000      165,000       21

36  29   Nuffer Smith Tucker       X       194,880      200,214       -3

37  N/A  Trone Public Relations    *       176,183          N/A      N/A

38  38   Lou Hammond & Assoc.      X       174,225      118,040       48

39  33   Quinn/Brein               X       150,000      180,000      -17

40  39   Rogers & Associates       *       144,784      102,607       41

41  27   Public Communications     X       127,908      230,993      -45

42  32   McNeely Pigott & Fox      *       121,335      181,000      -33

43  37   The Pantin Partnership    *       120,000      120,000        0

44  43   Imre & Associates         *       114,373       35,525      222

45  N/A  BRW LeGrand               X       100,000          N/A      N/A

46  N/A  Maccabee Group            X       100,000          N/A      N/A

47  N/A  Valencia, Perez &         *        97,519          N/A      N/A

         Echeveste

48  40   Wyse Landau               Y        76,000      100,000      -24

49  45   John Bailey & Assoc.      X        54,936       21,537      155

50  35   DeVries Public            Y        52,072      144,937      -64

         Relations

51  46   LaBreche Murray           X        50,000       20,000      150

52  42   Capital Comms.            X        48,000       36,000       33

53  N/A  Deen & Black              Y        46,367          N/A      N/A

54  44   Conkling, Fiskum &        X        45,033       28,437       58

         McCormick

55  47   Ballard Comms.            X        37,032       15,088      145

56  N/A  HMS Success               X        27,878          N/A      N/A

57  N/A  The TransMedia Group      *        25,000          N/A      N/A

58  28   Imada Wong Comms. Grp     *        21,000      208,000      -90

59  N/A  Influence                 X        13,985          N/A      N/A

60  N/A  Brinker Comms.            *         9,722          N/A      N/A

         TOTALS                        104,761,456  102,689,772        2


Ranking  Agency Name           Total income  Food    Total income   Food

99  98                       1999 (dollars)  % 99  1998 (dollars)   % 98

1   1    Ketchum                123,630,000    21     101,485,000     25

2   4    BSMG                   122,062,000    12     109,573,000     12

3   3    Fleishman-Hillard      181,152,000     7     136,272,000     12

4   2    Shandwick              153,429,000     8      91,485,000     22

5   5    Edelman                128,174,735     8     101,868,218      8

6   6    Ogilvy                  92,220,200     4      54,457,700      7

7   7    Publicis Dialog         23,505,716    16      11,403,700     21

8   8    Hunter & Associates      3,751,791    71       2,603,524     60

9   9    Morgan & Meyers          7,559,850    34       5,628,780     26

10  12   Vorhaus & Co.            2,547,160    75       1,460,786     50

11  10   The MacKenzie Group      1,650,000   100       1,390,000    100

12  11   Bragman Nyman            7,166,000    18       5,439,000     15

         Cafarelli

13  N/A  Dan Klores Associates   10,800,000     9      10,393,000    N/A

14  13   Hope-Beckman             1,625,277    59       1,031,077     65

15  41   Kupper Parker Comms.     4,620,606    18       3,100,400      2

16  14   Patrice Tanaka & Co.     4,399,000    17       3,952,000     16

17  20   Richmond Public          1,292,700    50         938,150     36

         Relations

18  17   Richard French & Assoc   3,299,541    19       2,367,625     17

19  16   Dome Communications      2,100,000    27       1,600,000     29

20  15   Torme & Co.              2,010,876    25       2,310,639     22

21  24   Price/McNabb             4,079,198    12       4,122,768      7

22  18   Stevens Baron Comms.       979,995    39         872,891     44

23  21   Tattar Cutler              915,068    41         819,146     41

24  23   DuDell & Associates        889,924    39       1,388,077     22

25  N/A  Charleston/Orwig         2,474,153    13       2,383,963    N/A

26  22   Eric Mower and Assoc.    2,037,318    15       2,020,022     15

27  48   Strat@comm               3,396,660     9       2,868,424      1

28  26   The Headline Group       2,326,231    12       1,796,428     14

29  N/A  LaForce & Stevens        4,774,805     6       3,747,848    N/A

30  30   JSH & A                  1,170,700    24         679,700     29

31  19   Schneider & Associates   1,821,919    15       2,158,875     16

32  25   Lane Marketing Comms.      864,072    31         529,458     53

33  36   Tunheim Group            5,034,475     5       4,816,144      2

34  31   Dublin & Associates      1,333,313    18       1,196,228     16

35  34   Emmanuel Kerr Kilsby     1,679,500    12       1,300,000     13

36  29   Nuffer Smith Tucker      1,286,730    15       1,261,219     16

37  N/A  Trone Public Relations   2,072,666     9               0    N/A

38  38   Lou Hammond & Assoc.     3,484,500     5       2,951,000      4

39  33   Quinn/Brein                639,000    23         565,000     32

40  39   Rogers & Associates      8,193,894     2       7,100,000      1

41  27   Public Communications    5,062,674     3       5,699,252      4

42  32   McNeely Pigott & Fox     4,010,702     3       4,006,334      5

43  37   The Pantin Partnership     857,805    14         783,602     15

44  43   Imre & Associates        1,020,107    11         710,490      5

45  N/A  BRW LeGrand                900,000    11       1,200,000    N/A

46  N/A  Maccabee Group             537,000    19         468,000    N/A

47  N/A  Valencia, Perez &        1,221,931     8         866,112    N/A

         Echeveste

48  40   Wyse Landau              1,014,000     7         899,000     11

49  45   John Bailey & Assoc.     1,374,084     4         913,782      2

50  35   DeVries Public           8,829,439     1       5,069,182      3

         Relations

51  46   LaBreche Murray          1,204,442     4       1,129,919      2

52  42   Capital Comms.             308,000    16         152,500     24

53  N/A  Deen & Black             3,126,917     1       2,349,347    N/A

54  44   Conkling, Fiskum &       1,866,553     2       1,377,311      2

         McCormick

55  47   Ballard Comms.             694,643     5         536,256      3

56  N/A  HMS Success              3,648,532     1               0    N/A

57  N/A  The TransMedia Group     1,504,597     2         675,341    N/A

58  28   Imada Wong Comms. Grp    1,324,000     2       2,295,000      9

59  N/A  Influence                  877,775     2         193,954    N/A

60  N/A  Brinker Comms.             798,173     1         659,701    N/A

         TOTALS                 932,571,398    11     696,089,607     15


Ranking  Agency Name                     Location

99  98

1   1    Ketchum                         New York

2   4    BSMG                            New York

3   3    Fleishman-Hillard               St. Louis, MO

4   2    Shandwick                       Bloomington, MN

5   5    Edelman                         New York

6   6    Ogilvy                          New York

7   7    Publicis Dialog                 Seattle

8   8    Hunter & Associates             New York

9   9    Morgan & Meyers                 Jefferson, WI

10  12   Vorhaus & Co.                   New York

11  10   The MacKenzie Group             Santa Rosa, CA

12  11   Bragman Nyman                   Beverly Hills, CA

         Cafarelli

13  N/A  Dan Klores Associates           New York

14  13   Hope-Beckman                    Atlanta

15  41   Kupper Parker Comms.            St. Louis, MO

16  14   Patrice Tanaka & Co.            New York

17  20   Richmond Public                 Seattle

         Relations

18  17   Richard French & Assoc          Raleigh, NC

19  16   Dome Communications             Chicago

20  15   Torme & Co.                     San Francisco

21  24   Price/McNabb                    Charlotte, NC

22  18   Stevens Baron Comms.            Cleveland

23  21   Tattar Cutler                   Horsham, PA

24  23   DuDell & Associates             Berkeley, CA

25  N/A  Charleston/Orwig                Hartland, WI

26  22   Eric Mower and Assoc.           Syracuse, NY

27  48   Strat@comm                      Washington, D.C.

28  26   The Headline Group              Atlanta

29  N/A  LaForce & Stevens               New York

30  30   JSH & A                         Oak Brook Terrace, IL

31  19   Schneider & Associates          Boston

32  25   Lane Marketing Comms.           Portland, OR

33  36   Tunheim Group                   Minneapolis

34  31   Dublin & Associates             San Antonio, TX

35  34   Emmanuel Kerr Kilsby            Stamford, CT

36  29   Nuffer Smith Tucker             San Diego

37  N/A  Trone Public Relations          High Point, NC

38  38   Lou Hammond & Assoc.            New York

39  33   Quinn/Brein                     Bainbridge Island, WA

40  39   Rogers & Associates             Los Angeles

41  27   Public Communications           Chicago

42  32   McNeely Pigott & Fox            Nashville, TN

43  37   The Pantin Partnership          Miami

44  43   Imre & Associates               Baltimore

45  N/A  BRW LeGrand                     Denver

46  N/A  Maccabee Group                  Minneapolis

47  N/A  Valencia, Perez &               Pasadena, CA

         Echeveste

48  40   Wyse Landau                     Cleveland

49  45   John Bailey & Assoc.            Troy, MI

50  35   DeVries Public                  New York

         Relations

51  46   LaBreche Murray                 Minneapolis

52  42   Capital Comms.                  Cary, NC

53  N/A  Deen & Black                    Sacramento, CA

54  44   Conkling, Fiskum &              Portland, OR

         McCormick

55  47   Ballard Comms.                  Las Vegas

56  N/A  HMS Success                     Columbus, OH

57  N/A  The TransMedia Group            Boca Raton, FL

58  28   Imada Wong Comms. Grp           Los Angeles

59  N/A  Influence                       St. Louis, MO

60  N/A  Brinker Comms.                  Dallas


Source: PRWeek 2000 Agency Rankings

Auditing:

Y denotes a full audit or review;

* compilation audit;

X unaudited statements signed/approved by either the CFO or CEO/partner.

A random audit process will be used for agencies providing unaudited

figures.



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