Zeno Group named agency partner for three Kraft Heinz brands

The DJE Holdings firm is serving as primary agency partner for Lunchables, Oscar Mayer and Heinz.

Still shot from Oscar Mayer's blogona-inspired face mask campaign
Zeno worked on Oscar Mayer's bologna-inspired facemask campaign.

CHICAGO: Kraft Heinz has appointed Zeno Group as the primary PR U.S. agency partner for its brands Lunchables, Oscar Mayer and Heinz. 

Egami Group, the multicultural, minority-owned communications firm that Zeno bought a stake in and formed a strategic partnership with last year, is supporting the agency’s work. Egami team members are “embedded” in Zeno’s team, said Grant Deady, MD for Zeno Chicago and chief culture officer.

“They are helping us to strategically go to market with those brands around earned [media]…in a way that resonates with consumers and increases brand relevance,” said Kraft Heinz head of North America communications Stephanie Peterson.

She added that Zeno “understands the media landscape, how consumers receive brands, and they are able to take creativity to the next level in helping garner attention but also deliver impact.” 

Deady said that Kraft Heinz was clear in its RFP about the importance of multicultural audiences to each brand. 

“We flexed into our strategic partnership with Egami to make sure we were bringing our best multicultural experience to the table for all of these brands,” he said. “It was a fully integrated team, Zeno and Egami together, pitching the business.”

Zeno began working on the account at the start of the year after winning it in November following the RFP process. Missy Maher, EVP and director of integration for Zeno in Chicago, is leading a team of 12 on the account.

“Zeno is already helping the brands to finesse the messages they are telling and get closer to the business goals, not just the campaigns we are running,” said Peterson. 

For instance, the DJE Holdings firm helped to promote Oscar Mayer’s bologna-inspired beauty masks in January.

“They helped to tell the story about how that brand is putting some fun into sliced meats,” said Peterson. She added that the agency will come up with “breakthrough ideas that put our brands on the lips of culture.”

ICF Next was the incumbent on all three brands. Peterson said that the agency is no longer working with any Kraft Heinz brands, but it does partner with Planters, which Hormel Foods acquired from Kraft Heinz last year.

“We are enormously proud of our decade-long ​partnership with Kraft Heinz,” an ICF Next spokesperson said. “If you told us back in 2012 that we’d drive significant growth across so many of the company's brands, play a key role in several of the decade’s most effective and pop-culture relevant campaigns and win a long list of national and global honors, we would have happily signed up for it.”

ICF Next worked on campaigns such as Heinz Mayochup’s launch and Kraft’s Mac & Cheese revamp

“As Kraft Heinz continues to evolve, we recognize the need for creative thinking and fresh eyes in helping us reignite a lot of the brand love that has been there for a long time but needed new relevancy and excitement,” said Peterson. “Bringing on a new partner is expected to help us do that.”

Budget information was not disclosed.

In September 2020, Kraft Heinz said it would cut $2 billion in costs over five years to fuel investment as part of its turnaround plan. At the time, it also said it would update its products to focus on consumer trends, including cutting down on sugar and using fewer ingredients. 

Since then, the company’s marketing team has undergone a “significant transformation,” Peterson said. This month, the marketing team was centralized under Sanjiv Gajiwala, North America chief growth officer. 

“That is complemented by the PR team, which sits under me,” said Peterson. “This structure is meant to give us the agility and speed in responding to creative and culture much faster.” 

Previously, marketing was embedded within each individual brand, Peterson explained.

Last year, Kraft Heinz hired Alex Abraham as VP of global corporate communications and reputation management and appointed Kathy Krenger as chief communications officer.

Michael Mullen retired from his role as Kraft Heinz's head of global communications and corporate affairs on August 15 after 23 years at the company.

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