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Kimberly-Clark in Talks With Several PR Agencies

Marketer Said to be Searching for Corporate Communications Help

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Kimberly-Clark is in talks with a handful of PR agencies as the company reevaluates its communications needs, Ad Age has learned.

The Texas-based marketer doesn't have an agency of record currently, and it's not immediately clear how these talks might impact the company's agency-relationship structure. Executives familiar with the matter have said that the company is looking for corporate communications support.

The company --which is the maker of Huggies diapers, Kleenex tissues and Kotex feminine care products -- spent $304.6 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2012, according to Kantar Media.

McGrath Matter Associates has supported K-C's corporate communication initiatives in the past, but this January the agency's founding partner George McGrath left to start McGrath Business Communications. He took the Kimberly-Clark business with him, which consists of corporate media relations. Mr. McGrath declined to comment for this story.

K-C wouldn't share much about the current conversations it's having with PR shops, but did confirm they are ongoing. A spokesman said: "Kimberly-Clark Corporation doesn't have an agency of record. We don't have a review underway at this time. However, we have discussed our needs with some agency partners." He added that the group has typically worked with agencies on a project basis.

Of the relationship with McGrath Business Communications, the K-C spokesman said, "George continues to be a fantastic resource for us."

Omnicom Group's Ketchum, sister agency Marina Maher Communications and independent Edelman handle the bulk of the CPG giant's brand work.

In 2011, the company retained Ketchum for its Family Care brands, which include Cottonelle and Kleenex tissues, Scott tissue and towels, and Viva paper towels. Marina Maher Communications has supported adult and feminine care brands Poise, Kotex and Depend. And Edelman has handled PR for the company's Baby and Child Care portfolio. A few years ago, the K-C health care division hired Schwartz Communications.

This month, K-C promoted Clive Sirkin to the role of chief marketing officer reporting into Tony Palmer, president-global brands and innovation. When Mr. Sirkin joined in 2007, he helped Mr. Palmer implement the company's integrated marketing communications program. Prior to joining the company, he had been group managing director on the Kellogg account at Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett in Chicago.

There have also been a few small changes in the communications group over the past couple of years. Eric Bruner joined the company in December as senior manager of corporate and brand external communications. He replaced Joey Mooring who left the company last summer. Bob Brand joined in July 2011 as director of external communications. Ken Smalling has been at the company for about three years and continues to serve as VP of global communications.

Contributing: Jack Neff

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