General Mills reworks agency roster, brings on Golin, Select

Ketchum was General Mills’ incumbent agency. Golin will focus on external comms while Select works on internal storytelling.

General Mills headquarters in Golden Valley, Minnesota. (Photo credit: Getty Images).
General Mills headquarters in Golden Valley, Minnesota. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

MINNEAPOLIS: General Mills has brought on Golin and New York-based firm Select in a restructuring of the food giant’s agency roster.

General Mills picked the two firms following an RFP process that included six agencies, said company global chief communications officer Jano Cabrera. Ketchum was the incumbent agency.

Golin is helping General Mills to communicate externally. The agency will handle brand experience, working with the marketing team and finding ways for the company to better connect with consumers through cultural touch points.

“For example, how we find relevance between our products and music, movies and gaming of today,” Cabrera explained. 

The Interpublic Group agency will also work with the corporate communications team, helping it to “drive out the cadence of comms to spotlight the number of positive changes the company is making,” he said.

“We are enormously proud to partner with General Mills," said Golin vice chairman Ellen Ryan Mardiks. "From the beginning, we were convinced we belong together. We are committed to growing their iconic yet relevant brands while we build more respect and admiration for the General Mills corporate brand. It is an enormous opportunity for us."

Select will assist with internal storytelling. Specifically, the firm will help the corporate comms team develop strategies to drive employee engagement and experiences. The goal is to create a “shared culture” in the virtual environment staffers are working in amid the pandemic.

Under normal circumstances, when a company is doing well, employee sentiment is positive. But because of COVID-19, even well-performing brands can simultaneously have positive momentum and strain, Cabrera explained.

“Reflecting on the reality of today and the need to communicate to our most important stakeholders, namely our employees, in ways that drive engagement, I decided to bring on Select to help on that count,” he said.

While Golin will primarily focus its consumer engagement work on North America, a key region for General Mills, the company selected the agency in part because of its global reach and mindset and could use the firm in other geographies as needed, said Cabrera.

Due to the nature of their work, Select’s remit is more global. Namely the firm is helping General Mills think through the best way to leverage its global employee touch points, such as international town halls and other global employee meetings, Cabrera said.

Cabrera joined General Mills last August, replacing Mary Lynn Carver in the top communications role at the company. He previously worked at McDonald’s as SVP of U.S. communications, global media and PR, a role in which he worked closely with Golin. 

Cabrera, a 2018 member of PRWeek’s Power List, also shook up McDonald’s agency relationships while at the fast-food company, bringing on WE and Purple Strategies to handle segments of its comms duties.

“Golin is a great agency partner, and I am very happy to be working with them again,” said Cabrera.

Representatives from Select were not immediately available for comment. 

General Mills’ revenue rose 9% to $4.4 billion in its fiscal Q1, which ended in August, in a better-than-expected performance as consumers stocked up on food for their homes during the pandemic.

This story was updated on October 5 with additional information. 

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