PITTSBURGH: H.J. Heinz has selected Edelman as its agency of record for corporate and consumer communications, switching from long-time agency Ketchum.
Ketchum in February became ConAgra's first AOR. ConAgra and Heinz are competitors in the nation's supermarket aisles.
Heinz had been talking to Edelman about expanding its role at about the same time the Ketchum-ConAgra deal became public, said Pam Talbot, president and COO for Edelman US.
Edelman has been doing corporate work with Heinz, helping it earlier this year in dispelling rumors that it would become involved in the presidential campaign of John Kerry because his wife has ties to the company's founding family, for example.
Being named AOR "is just a significant step up in the relationship," Talbot said.
Edelman's New York office will work on Heinz corporate communications while Chicago oversees product work, she said. A core team of five to seven people will be placed on the account and increase as needed.
Edelman already has begun handling PR for some Heinz philanthropic efforts and is working on brand positioning and media relations for its new Ore-Ida's Extra Crispy Easy Fries.
Heinz will continue to work with other agencies for some products, Talbot noted.
In addition to working with Heinz in the States, Edelman will handle international PR assignments for the company in Italy, Germany, and Australia, Talbot said.