PARSIPPANY, NJ: Cadbury has hired Paine PR as AOR for all its brands in the US, following a competitive review that began last June.
“We wanted to go midsized and were looking for the opportunity to have more strategic senior hands on our account on a regular basis,” said Katherine Beyer Di Benedetto, corporate communications manager for Cadbury North America. “The way Paine is structured, we felt they were positioned to do that for us.”
The company made its decision toward the end of the year but only recently finalized the contract. Di Benedetto attributed the months-long delay to a “back-and-forth” during negotiations. She said the recent Kraft-Cadbury deal had no bearing on the decision or process, which kicked off in June before the company “knew of Kraft's intentions.”
The company initially issued an RFI to 10 agencies, including large, small, and midsized, and narrowed it down to five for the RFP, including incumbent Cohn & Wolfe, which previously handled PR for Cadbury's Green & Black's chocolate brand.
Ketchum, which previously represented Cadbury's Trident, Dentyne, Stride, Bubblicious, Sour Patch Kids, Halls Cough Drops, and Swedish Fish brands, participated in the RFI process. The agency was invited to the RFP process but declined to participate, said Di Benedetto.
Ketchum did not immediately return a call to comment.
“We had the mix of size at the very beginning with the mindset that we'd probably want to get to the midsize,” she said. “[It was] so we'd see the scope of each one.”
She said the agency is currently developing strategic plans for 2010 and 2011.
“We're really excited to have them on board,” she said. “We liked them right away during the pitch process and we're consistently challenging ourselves to bring new innovative ways to do our marketing.”
While Cadbury's digital AOR Resource Interactive currently handles digital strategy, Di Benedetto said Paine will handle social media when it's relevant to a PR program.
Daryl McCullough, CEO at Paine, said, "We're looking at developing bold creative programs that move the consumer...using multiple channels. We're enjoying healthy growth, and this is contributing to that."
He added that the agency is looking for additional talent to work on the Cadbury account and various other creative brand building business.
Of the impact of Kraft's acquisition of Cadbury on the relationship, Di Benedetto said, “I can't speculate on that. We're still in the process of integrating the two businesses.”
She noted that the agency will not handle corporate PR for the Cadbury portfolio or the Cadbury chocolate brand, which in the US is manufactured and marketed by Hershey under a special license.