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Del Monte Foods Brings on Doner LA as Lead Agency

By Published on .

Del Monte Classic Green Bean Casserole
Del Monte Classic Green Bean Casserole Credit: Del Monte

Doner's LA office is on a roll: After a 65 percent revenue increase in 2017 over the prior year, the shop is taking on a fresh challenge as it picks up Del Monte Foods, a giant in the beleaguered packaged fruit and vegetable category.

The MDC agency's Los Angeles office won the business following a review run by SRI. The agency will officially lead strategy and creative across traditional, digital, social, web, CRM and shopper marketing for all Del Monte brands in May 2018, but effective immediately, Doner will handle the brand strategy for Del Monte Vegetable and Contadina brands.

In 2016, Del Monte Foods, which includes the namesake Del Monte brand, College Inn, S&W, Contadina and more, consolidated its marketing services under Epsilon and named the agency creative agency of record. Representatives from Epsilon declined to comment.

The Walnut Creek, Calif.-based food giant accounts for a large portion of the country's fruit, vegetable, tomato and broth categories, and generated about $1.7 billion in net sales in 2017, according to the company. However, last month in its fiscal second quarter earnings report, parent company Del Monte Pacific said sales fell 1.8 percent to $624.7 million, primarily due to softness in the U.S.

Most big food companies today, particularly processed foods and packaged fruits, vegetables and broths, are facing sales pressure as consumers gravitate toward startups and organic brands. The 10 largest packaged-food companies in the U.S. have lost about $17 billion in revenue over the past three years, according to Bloomberg.

Jason Gaboriau, executive VP and chief creative officer of Doner LA, told Ad Age that Doner has "big opportunity" to reposition the brand from being viewed as a canned food company into a packaged goods brand with fresh, artisanal fruits and vegetables.

Zihla Salinas, executive VP and managing director at Doner LA, says that Del Monte Foods is a "heritage company looking for a modern creative approach." The goal, she says, is to break through the sea of sameness in the category and reintroduce people to the company with fresh thinking.

The first work for the company, specifically for the Del Monte and Contadina brands, is expected to run in the fall.

In addition to Del Monte Foods, some other clients that are handled out of Doner LA include Nestle, Netflix, Mattel and more. Last summer, the agency was one of the seven agencies to be certified by McDonald's to work with the co-ops.

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