By Arun Sudhaman
LONDON: The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has completed its first major PR tender since forming in 2008, appointing a slew of firms - including Weber Shandwick and Good Relations - to a four-year roster worth more than £21 million.
The AHDB began life in April 2008 following the merger of five sector boards representing pigs, meat and livestock, potatoes, dairy, horticulture and cereals.
It began the PR tender in late 2009, and has now appointed more than 25 agencies across seven specific discipline rosters from 1 July: consumer, trade PR, supply chain, public affairs, education support, health and nutrition support, and media monitoring.
It is understood an electronic auction was used to conduct the tender, with agencies being evaluated on cost, creativity, strategy and comms planning.
Previously, the AHDB worked with agencies that already serviced the former sector boards. These included Weber Shandwick, Good Relations, Ceres and Mistral PR.
AHDB interim head of comms Guy Attenborough said that the largest share of the £21m budget would be spent on consumer. He also noted that the figure represented the maximum that could be spent over the four years.
None of the agencies, said Attenborough have been awarded any specific business. Instead they will be asked to pitch for tenders and projects as and when they arise.
The budget is also designed to take any crisis situations into account. Sectors such as meat and livestock, for example, have faced numerous issues in recent years, including BSE and foot & mouth disease.
Eight agencies have been named to the consumer PR roster: 3 Monkeys, Ceres, Good Relations, Nexus Communications, Porter Novelli, Richmond Towers Communications, Weber Shandwick, and Wild Card PR.
Consumer activites, said Attenborough, will focus on pigs, beef and lamb and potatoes. Numerous challenges exist. Attenborough pointed out, for example, that consumers believe eating less meat and dairy will “save the planet.”
“This is oversimplistic and inaccurate,” he said. “A lot of the messages on sustainability are on a global basis. The UK happens to be far more efficient in the way we produce our food here.”
Beyond consumer, Attenborough noted that the majority of activity will centre on trade PR. “Our primary business as an organisation is transfer of knowledge gained from R&D to farmers to improve profitability.”
The trade PR roster again features Ceres and Nexus Communications, who are joined by Breeze and Freeze, Broglio, HD Communications, Pinstone Communications, and Ware Anthony Rust.
Reading agency Ceres is the biggest winner from the process, appearing on all of the rosters bar public affairs and media monitoring.
Other agencies to appear on more than one roster include Good Relations and Weber Shandwick , who have been appointed to handle public affairs alongside Kendalls PR and FrontFoot Communications. Good Relations has also been named to support health & nutrition.
Last year, Weber Shandwick, Good Relations and HD Communications collaborated on an award-winning campaign to raise pig prices for the BPEX division.
Broglio, Nexus, Pinstone, Kendalls, FrontFoot, Ware Anthony Rust and HD all appear on multiple rosters. “We’ve got quite a complex and varied set of businesses and quite a lot of the activity is specialist trade,” explained Attenborough. “Detailed knowledge of the sector and of the agricultural industry is required.”
Three firms – Alferdo, Pinstone, and TNS Media Intelligence – have been appointed to handle media monitoring.