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H.J. Heinz Co.'s increased reliance on trade and price promotion forced an end to its 36-year relationship with Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

Though both parties insisted last week's decision was mutual, it's apparent Heinz's corporate decision starting in 1990 to move most of its marketing dollars out of advertising left Burnett with a frustrating account that didn't make financial sense anymore.

"Though this wasn't easy on any of us, we had to recognize that Heinz's needs have changed," said Tom Ross, exec VP-client services at Burnett. "Having a large full-service agency isn't necessary or appropriate for the brands Burnett was assigned."

A Heinz spokeswoman said, "There was a time when the one-size-fits-all approach worked for our brands. But our approach is changing from traditional to non-traditional marketing-targeted marketing and micromarketing. The broad full-scale advertising that Leo Burnett does so well is no longer the best approach for us."

The only Burnett-assigned brands receiving any ad support this year are Heinz 57 sauce and Heinz gravy.

Heinz said it would immediately reassign the brands without a review, to "agencies with capabilities that parallel these needs." The spokeswoman declined to be more specific.

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