Ketchum Food Center Celebrates 30th Anniversary
Kitchen Is Heart of Agency’s Global Food Practice
shannon [dot] gomes [at] ketchum [dot] com
San Francisco, Oct. 13, 2008 - Ketchum, one of the world's leading public relations agencies, celebrates the 30th anniversary of its Food Center on Oct. 16 with a celebration bringing together Bay Area chefs, food industry luminaries, influencers, alumni and clients who have contributed to the rich history of this nationally recognized facility. The Ketchum Food Center was built in 1976 at a cost of $250,000, an unimaginable sum at the time, to take an innovative approach to strategic communications in the food industry and position the agency at the industry’s forefront.
Benefit to the Food Business
Ketchum’s management recognized the value of investing in a culinary center as a foundation for the agency’s food practice. “Building the kitchen demonstrated we were serious about the food business and really understood it,” said Dave Drobis, Chairman Emeritus of Ketchum, who was Director of Ketchum’s San Francisco office at that time. “The Ketchum Food Center built our food reputation, and our food reputation certainly helped build Ketchum’s reputation in public relations.”
From its inception to present day, the staff of the Ketchum Food Center has provided insights to guide communications strategy from a distinct and valuable point of view: understanding the food product – how it cooks, how it tastes and how to push the envelope to expand product usage on foodservice menus and within retail products – while validating communications messages.
“The Ketchum Food Center is a unique resource among PR agencies,” said Dave Chapman, Partner and Director of Ketchum West, which includes Ketchum’s San Francisco and Los Angeles offices. “It is a tangible symbol of our commitment to food. But it is also a critical and practical resource for our clients and staff as we set and advance food trends and culture.”
More than 100 Clients
With the Food Center at its core, Ketchum has worked with many of the nation's most prestigious food companies and commodity boards, including Kikkoman International, the United States Potato Board, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, ConAgra Foods and many others. With deep expertise in consumer, foodservice, and ingredient marketing, the Ketchum Food Center has been central to many groundbreaking food marketing campaigns, which include these achievements:
· Dispelled the popular myth that potatoes were fattening by creating healthful and delicious low-fat recipes for the Potato Board (now the United States Potato Board)
· Built a program around James Beard to give beef cachet by producing a book, Dear James Beard, with recipes and reminiscences from world-class food stars, and invited top influencers of the food world to a New York book debut party on behalf of the Beef Industry Council (now National Cattlemen’s Beef Association)
· Pioneered one of the early food Web sites, www.recipe.com, to give Ketchum’s clients Internet presence at a time when other PR agencies were debating the viability of the World Wide Web, and won the first-ever Bronze Anvil award for Internet communications from the Public Relations Society of America
· Developed foodservice recipes and menu inspirations to help launch the flat iron steak, a once-obscure cut of beef, to make it today's menu darling for the $610 billion dollar restaurant industry.
Waldron Served as Catalyst
Unlike the typical test kitchens that served as invisible, back-of-the-house support, Ketchum put its San Francisco kitchen front and center as a showplace for the late food luminary, Maggie Waldron. Waldron built a jewel for Ketchum, with hand-painted tiles imported from Portugal, copper ducting, custom butcher block work stations, and Sub-Zero refrigerators and freezers. The facility includes a temperature-controlled wine cellar, food library and prop room. Built with a timeless style, the kitchen today looks as fresh and contemporary as when it was built.
As the first director of the Ketchum Food Center, Waldron drew America’s most renowned food experts to Ketchum, creating a culinary salon that attracted the food elite, including Julia Child and James Beard. Beard said that Waldron was “one of the most vital and amazing women to have worked her way to the top of the food business. She is far-seeing, her talents and knowledge are all-embracing, and she is intensely creative.”
The Ketchum Food Center continues to keep Ketchum on the cutting edge of food trends and to support clients in Ketchum’s Global Food & Nutrition Practice network with in-depth food knowledge. The Food Center is currently headed by executive chef Catherine Pantsios and draws on a team of experts, including recipe developers, food technologists and collaborating restaurant chefs to provide a complete menu of culinary services.
A communications innovator, Ketchum ranks among the largest global public relations agencies, operating in more than 50 countries. With five global practices – Food and Nutrition, Brand Marketing, Corporate, Healthcare, and Technology – and specialty areas that include Food B2B (foodservice and industrial), Concentric Communications (experiential marketing, events and meetings), Ketchum Entertainment Marketing, Ketchum Global Research Network, Ketchum Sports Network, MMG (clinical trial recruitment), Stromberg Consulting (change management and workplace communications) and The Washington Group (lobbying and government relations), Ketchum leverages its marketing and corporate communications expertise to build brands and reputations for clients. For more information on Ketchum, a unit of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC), visit www.ketchum.com.