Hershey gives McGarryBowen a piece of its creative business

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Hershey Co. has given McGarryBowen a significant project while keeping its two creative incumbents on board, Ad Age has learned.

"Hershey has added McGarryBowen to its roster of agencies, which also includes Anomaly and CP&B," the company confirmed in a statement to Ad Age. "It's a great time to work on our iconic brands at Hershey. It's a time of creative disruption and we look forward to groundbreaking creative from all of our agency partners."

Hershey slimmed down its creative agency roster in 2017, dropping Arnold and Havas. Now it seems to have decided the more, the merrier.

Dentsu-owned McGarryBowen and MDC Partners' Anomaly and CP&B could not be immediately reached for comment late Friday.

The addition of McGarryBowen comes after Jill Baskin joined Hershey in 2017 following years in marketing roles at Mondelez International Inc. and its predecessor, Kraft. McGarryBowen works with both Mondelez and Kraft Heinz. Another Hershey executive with McGarryBowen ties is Mary Beth West. Soon after she joined JC Penney in 2015 as executive VP-chief customer and marketing officer, West selected McGarryBowen as its agency of record; in 2017, she left to join Hershey as its chief growth officer. McGarryBowen lost the JC Penney account earlier this year. Prior to JC Penney, West also worked at both Mondelez and Kraft.

McGarryBowen has worked on Mondelez brands including Teddy Grahams, Triscuit, Newtons, Triscuit and Vea, a snack line introduced in 2017. Its Kraft Heinz work includes Oscar Mayer and Planters.

On Thursday Hershey gave a muted sales forecast for the year, saying it now expects sales to rise toward the lower end of its prior target of 5 percent to 7 percent sales growth. Hershey is cutting some packs of its confections in the U.S. as it works on reducing complexity and improving its profit margins. For example, it may make fewer versions of mixed assortments for Halloween or ship fewer types of merchandising displays to retailers.

Even as it eliminates some packs, Hershey continues to bring out new products. Hershey's Gold debuted in late 2017 and was given a big marketing push during the Winter Olympics with a campaign from CP&B. This year's big product news includes the May introduction of Reese's Outrageous, a bar with caramel, Reese's Pieces and peanut butter covered in milk chocolate. Plus, Hershey acquired Amplify Snack Brands, which adds SkinnyPop and other more savory snacks to its lineup.

Advertising for Hershey's core chocolate brands was up in the first quarter and should be up for the year, CEO Michele Buck said during the quarterly conference call Thursday. Hershey shifted a minor amount of its ad budget to in-store merchandising and other trade spending, she said, noting that the company still has "very, very strong advertising levels." The company's advertising and related consumer marketing costs fell 5.3 percent from a year earlier.

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