Ragu, Bertolli Make Agency Change Under New Ownership

Havas, Chicago Picks Up Creative, Digital Duties For Italian Sauce Brands

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Havas Worldwide, Chicago is the new creative and digital agency of record for Ragu and Bertolli Italian sauces.

The brands were sold last year by Unilever to Japanese food manufacturer Mizkan Group, which houses the two Italian brands under a subsidiary called R&B Foods. R&B, which is based in suburban Chicago, launched a creative review for the brands that was assisted by Joanne Davis Consulting, New York. Havas will be charged with developing campaigns for TV, radio, print, digital, packaging and in-store promotion.

"Since acquiring Ragu and Bertolli last year, we at R&B Foods have been very excited about the untapped potential of these iconic Italian sauce brands," said Dan O'Leary, said VP-marketing at R&B Foods, in a statement. "We're excited to partner with Havas Worldwide to reinvigorate these beloved sauces by creating engaging connections to the brands for new generations of consumers."

Under Unilever, Ragu's advertising in recent years was handled by agencies including Ogilvy and Barton F. Graf 9000. Ragu got $18.9 million in measured media support in 2014, up from $6.7 million in 2013, while spending on Bertolli sauces was minimal, according to Kantar Media. R&B declined to disclose future spending plans.

Ragu is the top-selling pasta sauce in the U.S., with $555 million in sales last year, according to Euromonitor International. But Campbell Soup Co.'s Prego has been gaining ground of late. Ragu's market share fell to 24% last year from 24.9% in 2013 and 25.7% in 2012, according to Euromonitor. Prego's share was 18.2% last year, down slightly from 18.3% in 2013, but up from 17.1% in 2012. Bertolli's share held steady at 7.2%.

"There are so many amazing stories waiting to be told about the quality of these delicious sauces and their rich heritage that we are anxious to co-create with the Ragu and Bertolli teams," Paul Marobella, chief executive officer for Havas Worldwide Chicago Group, said in a statement.

The assignment does not include Bertolli frozen meals, which are controlled by ConAgra.

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