Edelman wins Equal account

CHICAGO: Merisant has hired Edelman to handle PR for Equal, its low-calorie sweetener. The Chicago-based company had worked with Dome Communications in the past, but felt it was time to find a larger agency to handle the brand, said Felischa Marye, communications manager at Merisant.

CHICAGO: Merisant has hired Edelman to handle PR for Equal, its low-calorie sweetener. The Chicago-based company had worked with Dome Communications in the past, but felt it was time to find a larger agency to handle the brand, said Felischa Marye, communications manager at Merisant.

The company began an agency search in late February, talking to five firms before selecting Edelman. Marye declined to name them.

"They're a very mature agency with very senior people leading accounts, which we thought was important," Marye said. Edelman's media relations abilities and its food-industry experience also contributed to its selection, she said.

"We're hoping they will help us further build the brand," Marye said.

Worldwide, Merisant products account for about a third of the $1.2 billion sweetener market. More than half the company's sales are outside the US.

Equal was introduced in the US in 1982 when it was owned by Searle. Monsanto bought Searle in 1985 and spun Equal off to Merisant in 2000.

"We definitely want to communicate that we are a trusted brand and we are a global leader," said Marye.

Equal had the market largely to itself when it first debuted, but other sweeteners are now making the category more competitive.

Edelman is formulating PR plans for Equal and hasn't finalized how many people will work on the account, said Jennifer Peterson, GM and EVP of consumer health at the agency.

Edelman expects to talk about taste and health as key issue for Equal, she said.

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