Sweet'N Low Parent Opens Agency Review

Cumberland Looking for a Shop That Can 'Reposition an Established Brand to Revitalize Interest'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Faced with increased competition in the sweetener category, Cumberland Packing, maker of Sweet'N Low, has initiated an agency review for its $6 million marketing and media account.

According to the request for information and materials that was sent to more than 20 agencies, the company is looking for an agency partner to manage brand strategy, TV, print, direct, outdoor, radio and interactive creative executions; production; packaging development; and media planning and buying. The review excludes public relations and promotions.

The selected shop will work on all of Cumberland's brands, including Sweet'N Low, Sugar In The Raw, Stevia Extract In The Raw, NatraTaste Blue, NatraTaste Gold, Butter Buds and Nu Salt.

Cumberland is battling for second place in the sweetener market against Merisant, maker of Equal. Both trail industry leader and Splenda manufacturer McNeil Nutritionals, which garners the majority of the category's dollar share at retail (nearly 70%).

The RFI indicates that Cumberland may be looking to reposition its brands and take on some larger competitors with new product offerings or line extensions. The document asks for competing agencies to provide case studies illustrating their ability to "reposition an established brand to revitalize brand interest and increase sales and/or level of usage" and "successfully introduce a new product or line extension." It also asks for examples where the agency was able to "increase market share in an environment where a product is a challenger brand and is significantly outspent by its competitors."

Pedone not participating
Longtime incumbent Pedone, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based agency, will not take part in the review. Ed Poole of Aquent Consulting, who is managing the review, said the relationship between Pedone and Cumberland had simply run its course. "Pedone has done for Cumberland everything they wanted them to," Mr. Poole said. "But Cumberland wants some fresh thinking on their flagship brand and new product lines."

Cumberland is targeting a wide swath of creative agencies ranging in size from smaller independent shops to large network agencies. From the 20-plus agencies that were initially contacted, Cumberland will whittle the number of shops down to eight, which will then be given a creative assignment. Cumberland will choose two to three agencies based on that work and will give the remaining agencies the "year one" scope of work, for which they will have to supply a staffing plan and compensation request.

Mr. Poole said the company is looking for an agency east of the Mississippi. "We know there are a lot of talented people who come to New York, do the agency game, and then go back to their hometowns and start up agencies," Mr. Poole said. "And we wanted to make sure we caught those in the net."

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