Ogilvy in the US says no to Kraft’s ad revolution

Ogilvy & Mather has resigned Kraft’s Honey Maid crackers account after less than a year, citing disagreements over creative work. Knowing Ogilvy, part of WPP, money may have had something to do with it too.

Kraft, currently preparing to split itself into two separate companies, one with foods and the other with snacks, is currently running ‘Operation Spark,’ an attempt to revive its lesser brands by hiring a roster of upstart creative agencies.

Big winners so far include Droga5 and Taxi New York (also owned by WPP). Other business has found its way to Crispin Porter (Milka in Europe), Mcgarrybowen and Saatchi & Saatchi. Much of this business was formerly handled by Ogilvy.

So Ogilvy, which is a much more dominant force in the US than it is in Europe, may have felt it was on a hiding to nothing. And it’s at least possible that Kraft sees Operation Spark as a kind of work experience for the agencies concerned, paying relatively low ad hoc fees to agencies keen to win a bigger share of its business (which Ogilvy had once but doesn’t any more).

Big agency networks and their even bigger marcoms owners are reluctant to resign big global company ad accounts (however small and unprofitable) because their business ultimately depends on persuading such clients to spend money with them all around the world. By and large they do not pick up much local business – because they’re too expensive or the best talent is running around looking after the likes of Kraft.

Ogilvy handles Kraft in some other markets outside the US. So it would have been a big decision to resign even a single Kraft cracker brand.

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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.