Japan's Mizkan Group enlisted Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher to cook up PR for its $2.15B acquisition of Unilever's Ragu and Bertolli brands.
Mizkan, known for its condiment brands and focused mainly on Japan, said it wants to develop "a more balanced global operation," diversifying away from Japan with a push into North America. It acquired US-based Border Foods (chile peppers) in 2011 and Holland House (cooking wines, vinegars) in 2005.
Joele Frank vice chairman Andrew Brimmer heads the PR work for Mizkan, which is based in Japan's Aichi Prefecture and traces its roots back 210 years.
Unilever said annual revenue for the two brands tops $600M, noting the deal includes two producing facilities in Kentucky and California. The company in April said it was exploring strategic alternatives for its pasta sauce and Slim-Fast brands. Unilever North America president Kees Kruythoff said the sale enables the London and Rotterdam-based company to "sharpen" its focus within its food business, which includes Ben & Jerry's, Promise, Popsicle and Country Crock, among others.
"The Ragu and Bertolli business leads the pasta sauce category in the United States, and we believe that the potential of both brands can be fully realized with Mizkan," he said.
Anita Larsen, a Ruder Finn vet, is director of communications for Unilever in North America, based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. She said the company handled the sale communications in-house.