Frito-Lay Taps Strawberry Frog for New Snack Line

Goes Outside of PepsiCo's Omnicom Roster for 'True North' Launch

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Frito-Lay is reaching beyond parent PepsiCo's advertising holding company of choice, Omnicom Group, to bring aboard a new agency partner.

The food-and-beverage giant's snack foods unit has tapped independent agency Strawberry Frog, New York, to serve as creative agency of record for its forthcoming line of healthy snacks, dubbed True North. A Frito-Lay spokeswoman confirmed the independent has been hired to handle for creative duties for the new nut-based line of snacks, expected to launch nationally in the second quarter of 2008.

'Strategic fit'
"Strawberry Frog is the ad agency working on True North and was selected by the brand team because they thought it was a strategic fit," the spokeswoman for Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay said. She declined to provide any further details surrounding the new relationship.

Whether a competitive review was held for the account is unclear, as are billings that will be devoted to marketing the True North brand.

For the first nine months of 2007, Frito-Lay spent a total of $1.27 billion in measured media to market its well-known potato chips, corn chips, pretzels and other snack brands, according to TNS Media Intelligence. True North "fits within our broader portfolio as we focus on healthier snacking, and health and wellness," the Frito-Lay spokeswoman said.

Omnicom's OMD is expected to handle media duties for the brand, according to executives familiar with the matter.

Among the Omnicom agencies that currently handle U.S. marketing for Frito-Lay are Element 79 Partners, Chicago, which handles the Tostitos, Fritos and Lays brands; and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, which does work for Doritos and Cheetos.

Long-standing relationship
A spokeswoman for parent PepsiCo referred all calls to Frito-Lay, but both Omnicom and Frito-Lay said Strawberry Frog's entry onto the PepsiCo roster has no bearing on the long-standing holding-company/marketer relationship.

"Nothing about this that is violation of our relationship with PepsiCo," an Omnicom spokeswoman said. A Frito-Lay spokeswoman would say only: "PepsiCo continues to work with the Omnicom family of agencies, which provide the company with a great pool of talent."

While rare, it's not unheard of for PepsiCo to call upon agencies outside of the Omnicom family; PepsiCo works with Havas-owned Euro RSCG 4D for direct marketing and other marketing services, for example. And Omnicom remains PepsiCo's holding company of record.

Still, for PepsiCo, which recently underwent a sweeping reorganization, awarding the True North business to Strawberry Frog is an indication of yet another mega-marketer weary of putting all its eggs in the same basket.

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Contributing: Megan McIlroy, Natalie Zmuda
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