Kraft Foods has shifted media planning duties on its Macaroni & Cheese brand to New York-based independent agency Horizon Media without a review, per sources. The client spent more than $36 million on ads for the brand last year, according to Kantar Media.
The incumbent on the planning account was Publicis Groupe's MediaVest. Along with sibling agency Digitas, it handles a majority of the client's media business through a special client-dedicated unit called Kraft Foods One Team. The One Team unit is housed at MediaVest.
Sources said MediaVest will retain buying and multicultural planning responsibilities on the Mac N' Cheese assignment.
The reason for the planning shift was not immediately clear. The agencies either did not respond for comment or referred inquiries to the client. Client reps did not respond to emails seeking comment.
But Kraft has been active in realigning its agency roster lately. The creative portion of its Mac N' Cheese account shifted to Crispin Porter + Bogusky from DraftFCB over a year ago. Last month, CP+B was awarded creative chores for Kraft's Triscuit brand, while WPP's Taxi was recently selected to handle the client's new Mio, a water fortifying product.
The rivalry between MediaVest and Horizon has intensified since the latter joined the Kraft Foods roster last year, after the company acquired confectionary giant Cadbury for $19 billion. At the time, Horizon handled Cadbury's estimated $120 million media planning and buying assignment, initially won in 2008 after a review.
Subsequently, Kraft took the buying portion of that assignment from Horizon and placed it with MediaVest, while leaving the planning portion at Horizon.
In August, Kraft unveiled plans to split into two separate companies by 2012. Its decision to award Horizon the planning for Mac N' Cheese would give the agency assignments in both of those proposed companies: an international snack foods business, where Cadbury is parked, and a North American grocery concern, where the macaroni and cheese division is housed.
For Horizon, this is the second piece of business it has won from MediaVest this year. In April, it was awarded financial company Capital One's $350 million media assignment, which MediaVest had handled for a decade.
Just last month, Horizon won the media assignment for United Continental in partnership with Mcgarrybowen, which won creative duties. In the loss column for Horizon: longtime client NBC Universal, which was awarded to WPP's Maxus by new owner Comcast in July. Starcom MediaVest Group retained Comcast's cable company business and added the Universal Theme Parks assignment.