Masterfoods taps nascent IPG firm for Uncle Ben's

VERNON, CA: Masterfoods USA has chosen a two-month-old Interpublic Group firm to handle PR for its Uncle Ben's brand.

VERNON, CA: Masterfoods USA has chosen a two-month-old Interpublic Group firm to handle PR for its Uncle Ben's brand.

Current Lifestyle Marketing (CLM), an IPG agency that operates under the Constituency Management Group, beat one other undisclosed agency in the review. Porter Novelli had worked with Uncle Ben's for the past five years, but did not repitch.

"While CLM is a new agency, we have strong relationships with other IPG firms and have worked with [CLM's] key team leaders in the past," said Tara Rush, PR manager at Masterfoods. "We feel confident they are the creative and strategic minds we need behind a successful PR program. And all of their proposed programs were grounded in a rich, brand building strategy."

Virginia Devlin, EVP and GM of the agency, said that CLM would partner with Axis Communications, the multicultural arm of Weber Shandwick, and, potentially, with other IPG agencies on the account. The account will be led out of the agency's Chicago and Los Angeles offices.

Billings and contract length are currently undetermined.

Devlin said that CLM will specialize in creating marketing campaigns that can be integrated with the continually "changing activities, interests, and opinions" of consumers.

Devlin said it was still too early in the process to discuss future plans but revealed that Masterfoods has asked the agency to create an early-mid 2007 integrated marketing campaign for Uncle Ben's.

Both Rush and Devlin said PR would play a larger role in the future marketing mix for Uncle Ben's.

"I think that as a brand there heading in some exciting new directions and PR is going to definitely play a more prominent role," Devlin said.  

"PR will begin to play a bigger role within Uncle Ben's marketing mix," Rush said.

Despite being a brand new agency, Devlin said it brings heavy backing to the table.  

"We have all of the IPG resources at our disposal," Devlin said. "If we continue our success and continue adding great new brands like Uncle Ben's to our roster, I think our growth opportunities are fantastic looking-forward."

The agency also has an office in San Francisco and currently has ten employees. Current Lifestyle Marketing's other clients currently include the Clorox Company and the Wine Market Council.

Devlin, a 14-year veteran of the industry who spent the previous nine with Weber Shandwick, said the agency is currently involved in three other pitches but would not disclose who the companies were or what categories they fell under, but did say "they vary in size."

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