Agency.com to Dish Up Del Monte Sites and Marketing

Agency.com has been selected as interactive agency of record by Del Monte Foods Company, makers of household brands like StarKist, 9Lives and Contadina. The full service interactive agency, which counts Miller Brewing Company, HP and Visa among its clients, is charged with developing Web site and online marketing strategies for over 20 Del Monte brands.

Site development for all brands is to come first, said Alan Burgis, managing partner of Agency.com’s San Francisco office, where the account will be managed. “There’s no point in bringing people somewhere that’s not ready for them,” commented Burgis, who said that site development will take at least six months. In the meantime, Agency.com will consider potential ad strategies, stressing both analytics and creative in determining what works best for each brand.

Burgis believes consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands have lagged behind other categories, such as tech, that have years of online marketing experience. “The whole packaged goods industry is racing towards this space, but they haven’t really gotten there,” he observed. ”They’re late to the party as a category compared to the more tech-reliant companies.”

Burgis expects an explosion in interactive marketing efforts from CPG advertisers in the near future, partially because “their key audience is [online now].” According to research firm eMarketer, CPG advertisers will boost online ad spending by 17 percent this year, reaching $470 million.

The Del Monte account provides the agency with an opportunity to help develop a client’s online strategy practically from scratch, said Burgis, who added, “We’re getting in on an early phase of their online development.” The approach taken for each individual brand will differ based on the target audience. For instance, Burgis thinks the Web marketing for a pet treat brand like Snausages will most likely involve a lot of promotions, as opposed to, say, marketing for Contadina, which might entail more health- and recipe-focused strategies.

In terms of ad strategies, the key will be determining what works best at reaching each brand’s target audience, which could certainly involve mainstay approaches such as search, banner advertising and email. “It’s not always sexy,” admitted Burgis.

The agency anticipates that Del Monte will put much more money towards its future online efforts than it has up till now. “In the past, they’ve not been big spenders,” noted Burgis, who continued, “The assumption is it’s going to be a substantial number working across all the divisions.” Part of Agency.com’s task is to determine how much to spend where and how.

According to Burgis, Del Monte didn’t present a specific budget in its request for proposal. He said that Del Monte kept the names of Agency.com’s competitors hush-hush, too. In fact, he’s still not sure what companies the firm was up against. Del Monte couldn’t be reached for comment about the new assignment.

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