General manager of marketing Tim Skellern says DDB, which has been its main agency for "ten or 12 years", is still on the roster. But the relationship status was changed earlier this year so there's no longer a retainer involved and, as evidenced by the decision to shack up with Running With Scissors, the company is starting to see other creative, strategic people.
"Instead of being serial monogamists, we're enjoying being able to be a bit more flexible," he says.
While Skellern says it's not really about choosing between above or below the line and is more about finding the best approach for each particular brand, he admits Heinz Watties has traditionally put more emphasis on below-the line and promotional activity to increase sales than above-the-line advertising (it released a campaign for spaghetti via DDB last year). And, like many FMCG companies, the "new landgrab" that is the shopper marketing space is becoming an increasingly big focus.
"Our thinking starts at point of purchase and goes backwards," he says. "And if demand creation through advertising can help sales, then great."
Its Food in a Minute segment, which, is done inhouse and filmed by OnDigital's Nick Tapper, is its biggest above-the-line property and Skellern says this has been very successful (technically, it's Food in either 15 or 30 seconds, but he sleeps well at night knowing it adds up to one minute per day). And it's also "a good example of how we have different solutions for different things".
The company works with a big group of specialist agencies, including Apollo Marketing. And this decision doesn't affect media, which is held by OMD.
While Skellern didn't want to divulge the company's marketing budget or talk about the two projects Running With Scissors is currently working on, he confirmed it would be increasing its marketing spend this year.
According to Nielsen AIS figures, Heinz Watties's media spend was $9.2 million in 2011, down slightly from $10 million in 2010.