The move pushes media strategically up the line of Campbell's marketing process, placing it beside other fundamental brand development elements and well ahead of creative.
The unit, Campbell Media Alliance, is the first new business win for Foote, Cone & Belding Communications spin-off True North Media, New York, which picks up planning, buying and research duties for more than $120 million in media billings.
"It's a recognition that the old paradigm of planning and buying is crumbling," said Gary Moss, Campbell VP-global advertising.
A number of major marketers, including General Motors Corp., Chrysler Corp. and Nestle, have similar units combining media staffing of one or more agencies in a client-dedicated team.
But Mr. Moss maintains Campbell Media is the first package-goods company unit to merge planning and buying.
Anheuser-Busch Cos. moved media planning and buying in-house over the past several years. But the functions remain separate with planning handled in St. Louis and buying in New York.
By creating a customized team of planning and buying generalists, Mr. Moss said Campbell hopes to pave a way into uncharted territory, borrowing a page from futurist Alvin Toffler's "third wave" theory.
"The third wave is based on knowledge. In many ways this is the first media entity of the third wave," said Mr. Moss, explaining the shift places media at the forefront of developing brand strategies, well before creative strategies are set and, in some cases, dictating them.
He cited, as an example, Campbell's creation over the past several years of "storm radio" media buys, contingency buys placed on radio stations that are automatically triggered by inclement weather conditions. The strategy and the creative executions emanated from the media concept.
The unit, based in New York at True North Media offices, will be headed by Ann Mescherry. She's a former exec VP-media at Bates USA, where she was responsible for Campbell and Mars Inc.
Ms. Mescherry will help assemble a team of more than 20 media staffers to be recruited from the incumbent Campbell brand shops: FCB/Leber Katz Partners, Bates USA, Ogilvy & Mather, BBDO Worldwide and Margeotes Fertitta Donaher & Weiss, all New York; and Bayer Bess Vanderwarker, Chicago.
The win represents more than $90 million in media billings for FCB, which previously handled about $30 million in network, syndication and cable buying assignments.