Heinz seeks agency for £12m creative account

Agencies are being approached directly by the food giant to pitch for the business.

Heinz has kicked off a search for an advertising agency as it bids to find a home for its £12 million UK creative account.

The food giant has approached a number of shops with a view to holding a "limited pitch", according to a source close to the business.

The Heinz marketing director, Suzanne Douglas, is understood to be approaching agencies directly, and will be holding strategically focused meetings with shortlisted shops next week.

Agencies are not expected to be asked to present creative work as part of the review.

The move follows McCann Erickson's decision to resign the soups and sauces account last week, owing to what a senior source in New York described as a "technical conflict" with McCann's Nestle business.

McCann handles advertising for the Nestle Maggi soups and sauces brand in markets that include the Nordics, South America and parts of South-East Asia. But the agency's only UK business for Nestle is on the Nescafe account.

McCann won the majority of the UK Heinz account in November last year following a pitch that included the incumbent, Beattie McGuinness Bungay, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and M&C Saatchi, which was awarded Heinz's £1.2 million Amoy task.

Media planning and buying, which will remain with Vizeum, is not affected by the review, and the current search will not affect VCCP, which was signed to the Heinz Weightwatchers account in June last year.

A spokesman for Heinz confirmed that the food manufacturer is "in the early stages of a review of advertising arrangements", but declined to make a comment on which agencies have been approached. Douglas declined to comment.

McCann will continue to work on the account for the duration of the search, and is understood to have produced enough work for an additional 12 months of advertising.