General Mills Names 72andSunny, Redscout as Creative Leads

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General Mills corporate headquarters.
General Mills corporate headquarters. Credit: iStock
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General Mills has named MDC Partners' 72andSunny and Redscout as its primary U.S. creative agency partners.

The food marketer now plans to begin a second phase of the creative review for its U.S. retail business, in order to decide on a fixed roster of project-based agencies.

"72andSunny with Redscout impressed us for so many reasons: a generous passion for our consumers; creative chops that have culture-shaping power; experience helping brands change their fortunes; and an inspiring commitment to diversity among their creative team," Michael Fanuele, VP-chief creative officer, General Mills, said in a statement. "But what swayed us most was a distinct ability to collaborate, with us and our other partners. This feels like a genuine, productive relationship, the kind in which we will make each other better."

In late August, General Mills said the agencies going through to the second round were Deutsch and Mother, along with incumbents 72andSunny, McCann and, rather than Saatchi, a holding company solution from Publicis Groupe. Redscout, which calls itself an innovation agency, is part of the MDC family, along with 72andSunny.

General Mills Chief Marketing Officer Ann Simonds previously told Ad Age that the review, which she ran with Mr. Fanuele, was prompted by a desire on the company's part to zero-base its thinking on marketing.

Media, which is handled by Mindshare in the U.S., was not affected by the review.

The review, which began this summer, encompassed General Mills' entire U.S. retail business including cereal, yogurt, meals, snacks and baking products. Sales in that division fell 4.8% to $10 billion in fiscal 2016, which ended in late May.

General Mills said the review was supported by Joanne Davis Consulting.

Before the review, General Mills had Saatchi & Saatchi and McCann as its primary advertising agencies. Wieden & Kennedy had previously handled Yoplait but is now the agency for Chobani. McCann still handles General Mills' Cereal Partners Worldwide globally.

"We've been lucky to have Saatchi and McCann as excellent partners for many years," Mr. Fanuele said. "They are incredible people who have done amazing work for our brands. They've been everything good partners and good friends should be, and we thank them for their great work."

Representatives from McCann and Saatchi were not immediately available for comment.

General Mills' U.S. advertising spending declined 13.4% to $709.2 million in 2015, according to the Ad Age Datacenter. Media spending declined on a number of brands last year, including Betty Crocker, Cheerios, Nature Valley and Progresso. However, media spending on Yoplait increased by 8.9% to $179.6 million, Ad Age data shows.

In what's becoming a larger trend in the industry around diversity and inclusion, General Mills required participating agencies to be staffed with at least 50% women and 20% people of color within the creative department. In September, HP Chief Marketing Officer Antonio Lucio sent a memo to the company's advertising and marketing agency partners asking for a commitment "to radically improve the percentage of women and people of color in leadership roles" in their organizations. A month later, director Alma Har'el launched an initiative called "Free The Bid," with the help of agencies including Pereira & O'Dell and Mother, that calls for agencies to include at least one female director every time it triple-bids a commercial production.

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