New broom at Premier Foods Mike Clarke turns to old mate Phil Rumbol and 101 for marketing boost

When Phil Rumbol, the highly-esteemed marketing director of Cadbury, left to co-found agency 101 in the wake of Cadbury’s sale to Kraft it was assumed that Rumbol and the Krafties didn’t get on.

Not so, it would appear, as, according to a report in the Financial Times, 101 has been been given the task of leading a 2012 marketing charge for the UK’s Premier Foods, the troubled owner of brands including Ambrosia, Hovis and Mr Kipling, now headed by former Kraft Europe boss Mike Clarke (left).

101 announced it had been appointed by Mr Kipling in April although this seemed a recipe for indigestion as it looked then as though heavily-indebted Premier might fail to last out the summer. But Clarke has made great progress at the company, dumping unwanted brands, changing the executive line-up and patching up relations with the UK’s all-powerful supermarkets who were cheerfully delisting its products when Premier tried to pass on higher commodity costs.

Now Clarke says he’s planning to double his adspend to five per cent of sales, starting with a £10m campaign through 101 for six key brands in February. Refreshingly, he seems to see the company’s path back to health in terms of more and better marketing rather than just cutting costs although he still has to persuade the company’s lenders to back him.

As for Rumbol and his 101 co-founders Richard Flintham and Laurence Gree (both refugees from Fallon, the agency that produced Cadbury’s famous ‘Gorilla’ ad for Rumbol and Cadbury) the challenge is to show that it can recapture some of that former magic. So far the agency’s work, for French Connection and Avios, the new version of Air Miles, has been solid rather than inspiring.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.