Comms units gear up as Nestlé buys Jenny Craig

CARLSBAD, CA: As Nestlé SA prepares for its acquisition of weight-management brand Jenny Craig, the PR teams are getting ready to tout Nestlé's heightened credibility in the nutrition arena.

CARLSBAD, CA: As Nestlé SA prepares for its acquisition of weight-management brand Jenny Craig, the PR teams are getting ready to tout Nestlé's heightened credibility in the nutrition arena.

Both Scott Parker, VP of marketing for Jenny Craig, and Francois-Xavier Perroud, corporate communications VP for Nestlé, said they didn't expect to change the agency lineup. Jenny Craig works with Lippe Taylor; Publicis Groupe agencies Manning Selvage & Lee and Publicis Dialog work with Nestlé. Internal PR staff is also not expected to change.

Said Parker, "[It was] important to Nestlé that the management team stay because we [led] the turnaround of the business."

The acquisition also "helps [Nestlé] build its nutrition presence," he continued. Nestlé owns Stouffer's, maker of Lean Cuisine.

Perroud said, "This move has to be seen in the big context of the strategic reorientation of the company in the direction of nutrition, health, and wellness."

Some outreach will address "the health costs caused by diabetes, heart problems, and other illnesses," he added.

Before the deal was finalized or announced, Cozette Phifer, director of corporate communications at Jenny Craig, said a communications team was set up to handle the anticipated ensuing media blitz.

"We created a communications team consisting of the two investment firms selling the company, ACI Capital and MidOcean Partners and representatives from both of their PR firms," Phifer said.

Also included were Jenny Craig's advisor from Goldman Sachs and a representative from law firm Weil, Gotshal and Manges, as well as its own internal legal and executive teams.

"Together we created a press release and Q&A, as well as a list of priority publications and internal constituents who needed to be notified," Phifer explained. "Then, we received Nestlé's press release and Q&A. Within an hour after Nestlé placed their release on the European wire, we placed ours on the US and global wires."

Phifer said there were six spokespeople made available for interviews, including Jenny Craig's CEO Patti Larchet and two managing partners from each of the two investment firms.

"Depending on the size, scope, and subject of the news venue, I assigned each reporter to the most relevant and available spokesperson," Phifer said. "We fielded over 40 interviews in less than four hours and spent the next two days following up with photos and fact-checks."

Jenny Craig also worked with Broadgate Consultants, the PR firm for MidOcean Partners. A spokesperson for Broadgate said Jenny Craig drew upon the financial communications firm specialty of working with the financial media. Broadgate also helped broker the exclusive story on the acquisition that ran on the front page of The New York Times business section this past Monday.

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