Food Giant to Bolster Brand With New Product Initiatives, up Ad Spending

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NEW YORK ( -- ConAgra Foods has shifted responsibility for its largest brand, Banquet, to Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, San Francisco, after a review.

The shift of the brand, formerly handled by  Fogarty Klein Monroe of Houston, "reflects our ongoing commitment to growing brands," a ConAgra spokesman said.

Ad spending to increase
According to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, the marketer spent only $6 million in media in total for the first 11 months of 2003 against Banquet frozen meals as well as other Banquet-branded dinner and dessert dry mixes, but ConAgra plans to introduce a variety of new product initiatives to bolster the brand -- ConAgra's largest in terms of sales, the spokesman said -- and that spending will likely grow this year.

An executive familiar with the account said billings are anticipated to be near $20 million.

Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra launched a brand-building effort that includes an ongoing evaluation of the company's advertised brands and their agency partners, which prompted the recent consolidation of ConAgra's snacks unit with Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis.

Chasing Betty Crocker
Banquet had been rumored to be in review as the company needs to bolster sales, especially in dry dinner mixes, after category leader General Mills' Betty Crocker had come in strong with its own with-meat varieties.

Meanwhile, DDB in May will end its six-year relationship with Heinz Frozen Foods "Smart Ones" frozen entrees, Ore-Ida potatoes, and Bagel Bites, an agency spokeswoman said.

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