In the wake of its £470 million ($813m; €675m) acquisition last month of HP Foods [WAMN: 21-Jun-05], global food giant H J Heinz has abruptly suspended all UK print and TV consumer advertising.
A terse statement from the company read: "Heinz has decided to freeze all above-the-line marketing spend while [it] undertakes a complete strategic review after the completion of the HP acquisition announced last month. There is no impact on trade marketing investment as a result of this decision."
HP, which focuses primarily on readymade sauces (among them HP Sauce, Daddies, Amoy and Lea & Perrins), is seen as a shrewd strategic buy for Heinz, especially in the light of the latter's stated intent to concentrate on its profitable sauces and condiments lines.
Heinz is zip-lipped as to the term of its ad ban. But there are no plans to change its agency lineup - creative is split between Publicis network Leo Burnett and London independent WRCS, while media planning and buying is handled by Aegis-owned Vizeum.
The freeze presumably also applies to HP Foods which recently hired Beattie McGuiness Bungay to handle its £6m account.
And while the agencies tighten their belts, there'll also be anxious faces among Heinz marketers responsible for such non-core brands as Weight Watchers, Linda McCartney, John West and Aunt Bessie's.
Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff