Edelman has launched a food and beverage center of excellence led by Ketchum alum Alison Borgmeyer.
Borgmeyer joined Edelman this month as GM of the food and beverage center of excellence, reporting to Michele Anderson, chair of Edelman's U.S. brand practice. Borgmeyer worked at Ketchum for 21 years, most recently as partner and MD of the agency's North America food and beverage practice and Ketchum Cultivate food-focused specialty.
The center of excellence is headquartered in Edelman's Chicago office. It initially has 10 staffers, including Marianna Ruiz, its creative lead.
The group brings sector experts together across strategy, earned creative, advisory, data intelligence,?influencer, social and digital to serve Edelman's food and beverage clients in the U.S.
This model intersects brand, corporate reputation, employee engagement and public affairs to serve food and beverage clients from "field to fork," explained Megan Van Someren, global chair of Edelman's brand and food and beverage practices.
Van Someren, who joined Edelman one year ago, said that Edelman launched the center of excellence because the sector is having a "pivotal moment in time" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have seen some of the highest increases in trust within food and beverage, but there has also been lots of speculation and confusion," she said. "Things like food access and waste have been brought to the fore for many consumers, but we've also increased our confidence in the kitchen and relied on comfort eating."
Asked how the center of excellence differs from Edelman's specialized food and beverage agency Edible, Van Someren said that Edible is a separate legal entity within DJE, directly serving its own roster of food and beverage clients. It will have access to the center when relevant but continues to operate as a specialized standalone agency. The center will also support all DJE Holdings agencies as needed. The DJE network includes Zeno Group, United Entertainment Group, Edible Inc, Assembly and BioScience Communications, among other shops.
"We have always done great brand work with food and beverage clients in terms of revitalizing categories, launching new products and hardworking influencer initiatives and programs," she said. "But we wanted to raise the bar on how we bring food culture and food expertise."
She added that Edelman wants to make sure it is applying its insights through better audience research.
"We are integrating what we have in a more seamless way and then filling the gaps with specialized food and beverage strategists and creatives," said Van Someren.