Premier Foods calls £20m media review

Premier Foods, owner of Hovis and Oxo, has called a £20 million review of its UK media planning and buying business, handled for the past seven years by Starcom MediaVest Group.

Hovis: one of Premier Foods' 'power brands'
Hovis: one of Premier Foods' 'power brands'

The move follows Starcom resigning the business last week amid accusations Premier Foods had asked many of its 3,000 suppliers to pay substantial upfront fees to remain on its roster.

An SMG spokesman told Campaign that a request for what it described as an annual "investment payment" had been received from Premier Foods for the first time this summer.

However, a Premier Foods spokesperson stressed plans for the media review had been taking place for some time, and claimed Starcom’s resignation letter had only been received after the company had conveyed its intention to invite other agencies to pitch.

A spokesperson added: "As part of our strategy to drive category growth, we have significantly increased our marketing investment behind our power brands over the last 18 months while simultaneously driving improved effectiveness to get the most impact from our spend.
"Starcom has done an excellent job over the last seven years in supporting our business. However, we feel the time is right to review our media buying approach and undertake an invitation-only competitive pitch for our business going forward. Starcom was invited to be part of the pitch but has since declined the opportunity."

Premier Foods is believed to have already invited at least five media agencies to pitch for the business.

A spokesperson said the new brief did not include the same terms and conditions as Starcom’s contract – which had been initially drawn up more than seven years ago.

Most notably, plans for a compulsory "investment payment" are believed to have been removed from the new Premier Foods brief.

The spokesperson said the business had changed, and this review was a "chance to start afresh" a new relationship with a media specialist.

Ian Deste, the commercial director at Premier Foods, said: "We have worked with Starcom for many years and would like to thank them for their commitment and support. We very much look forward working with a new partner to generate even more impactful and effective advertising planning and execution in the future."

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