Element 79 Loses Some of Its Luster on Frito-Lay

Shop's Tostitos and Lay's Brands Move to Siblings Goodby, Juniper Park

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- PepsiCo's Frito-Lay unit has crunched its agency roster from three shops to two, cutting out Chicago-based Element 79.

Frito sent Element 79's Tostitos account to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, and shipped its Lays business to Juniper Park, Toronto, a unit of BBDO. All three agencies are part of Omnicom Group. Together, the brands spent more than $50 million in measured media last year, TNS Media Intelligence figures show.

The moves continue a frantic, almost schizophrenic, agency shuffling trend at Pepsi. Last summer, the marketer sent Lays to Element 79 and Cheetos to Goodby; both brands had been at BBDO. It also tapped Juniper Park to handle its stable of healthier brands such as Flat Earth. And just three months before that, it moved Tostitos and Fritos to Element 79 from another Omnicom shop, GSD&M.

Reversal of fortune
Element 79 came out ahead in that shuffle, but last month Pepsi yanked its Propel brand from the shop in favor of Goodby.

The Chicago shop's lost Tostitos, Lays and Propel business accounted for a "low- to mid-teens" percentage of the agency's billings, according to an agency insider.

The shop, founded in 2001 primarily to handle PepsiCo accounts, continues to handle Gatorade and Tropicana. Its other clients include Supercuts, Harris Bank, Celebrity Cruises and American Family Insurance. It also has a sports unit that does work for Discover Card and other clients.

A Frito-Lay spokesman didn't immediately return a phone call. Element 79 president Brian Williams and a BBDO spokesman referred calls to Frito-Lay, and Goodby spokesman didn't immediately return a call.

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Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo
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