Sara Lee to Consolidate $80 Million in Creative Ad Accounts

Process Begins as Sara Lee and Hillshire Farm Brands Go Into Review

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NEW YORK ( -- Sara Lee Corp. has put its Sara Lee and Hillshire Farm brands up for review as part of a plan to consolidate creative duties for its North American Food & Beverage unit, billings for which totaled $80 million last year.
Publicis, New York, has been the incumbent agency on the Sara Lee deli work. Omnicom's Element 79, Chicago, has handled Hillshire Farm. Both agencies will compete in the review.

Element 79 and Publicis
Omnicom Group's Element 79, Chicago, incumbent for the $21 million Hillshire Farm account, has been asked to participate, as has Publicis Groupe's Publicis, New York, which has handled the $37 million Sara Lee deli and bakery account as well as Earthgrains breads.

Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., which already handles Ball Park, Jimmy Dean and Senseo brands for Sara Lee, as well as sibling Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, will participate.

C.J. Fraleigh
The review comes amid a major transformation plan from Sara Lee CEO Brenda Barnes that called for the creation of a separate food and beverage unit to house the company's $4.5 billion portfolio under the leadership of North American food and beverage chief C.J. Fraleigh.

Kim Feil was named in September as senior VP-chief marketing officer for the unit, with the mission of uniting the formerly far-flung brands in one office and under one CMO. Ms. Feil had said in October that she planned to look at the company's "marketing possibilities" and the results are now underway.

'Optimize service partnerships'
According to Sara Lee Food & Beverage spokesman Jon Harris, the consolidation of agencies is "part of an overall strategy to optimize service partnerships" and will likely help both Sara Lee and its agencies become "more effective at building distinctive brand positions across our categories and more efficient with our creative and production investments."

The consolidation is expected to place all the brands within at most two creative agencies. Mr. Harris declined to offer timing for the decision.

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Alice Z. Cuneo contributed to this report.

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