General Mills Starts Creative Agency Review Across All U.S. Retail Brands

Maker of Yoplait, Cheerios and Other Top Brands Doing Closed Review

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General Mills corporate headquarters.
General Mills corporate headquarters. Credit: iStock

General Mills is reviewing its creative and production/content work across all its U.S. retail brands, Ad Age has learned.

The food giant's decision to review its creative agencies and production and content agencies comes a month after the company said it planned to trim its U.S. marketing spending again this year.

It appears media, which is handled by Mindshare in the U.S., will not be affected by the review.

General Mills' main creative agencies are Interpublic's McCann and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi. It also works with Wieden & Kennedy, Fallon and 72andSunny.

Joanne Davis Consulting is supporting the review, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Joanne Davis declined to comment.

The review is part of General Mills' effort to consolidate its agencies in the U.S., people with knowledge of the matter told Ad Age. The process is not expected to have an impact on Cereal Partners Worldwide, the joint venture between General Mills and Nestle.

"As standing practice we do not comment on details of agency reviews," General Mills said in a statement. "However, we can confirm that General Mills has embarked on a closed review of its creative and production/content agencies in the U.S. We have a responsibility to ensure we have the right agency partners to continue growing our business and agency reviews are a routine part of running a successful business today."

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.

General Mills spends more on Yoplait in the U.S. than any of its other brands, according to Kantar Media. Its next largest brand by media spending is Cheerios, followed by Pillsbury, Nature Valley and Fiber One.

The review encompasses General Mills' entire U.S. retail business, which includes yogurt, cereal, meals, snacks and baking products. U.S. retail net sales were $10.5 billion in fiscal 2015.

During the company's June conference call, Chairman-CEO Ken Powell said U.S. media spending on cereal was set to increase by mid-single digits this year and that it planned to reduce yogurt marketing spending and redirect some of those cuts into trade promotion.

Contributing: Maureen Morrison, Alexandra Bruell

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