Publicis Groupe wins Kraft Heinz’s controversial $700m North America prize

Kraft Heinz has appointed Publicis Groupe to handle its entire $700 million North American media business, which makes up about 85 per cent of global spend for the US-based food giant.

Publicis Groupe beat Dentsu Aegis Network, led by Carat, in the final round of the pitch, which began back in March and has attracted controversy because of the harsh terms offered by Kraft-Heinz.

A dedicated new operation, named Publicis 57, (after Heinz’ 57 Varieties) will take on the account, in another example of CEO Arthur Sadoun’s “Power of One” model.

The account is not just about media buying, and will include data, analytics and commerce, so the French group may be able to eek some more value out of the contract through these avenues. Experts from group networks Epsilon and Publicis Media Exchange, as well as media agency Starcom, will make up the new Publicis 57 team.

More than 200 people across Publicis Groupe contributed to the pitch, as Tim Jones, CEO of Publicis Media Americas, worked hard to protect and extend a relationship that goes back 20 years.

The contest – which involved WPP and Omnicom at an earlier stage – came to represent the “race to the bottom” that characterises so many of the big reviews lately.

Kraft Heinz were reportedly demanding that payment terms be extended to 120 days, and prices were of course slashed, but Publicis Groupe will still be racking this up as a big win. Now may not be the time to conclude the ongoing argument about media value and transparency, and you can’t blame an agency for celebrating a victory after five months’ hard work through the worst of the pandemic.

The company’s brands in North America include Jell-O, Kool-Aid, Oscar Mayer and Planters Peanuts as well as the Heinz products.

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