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Continued: Olson hopes new Yoplait campaign propels ad agency into big leagues

  • Article by: DAVID PHELPS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 3, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Olson has done work for General Mills in the past but the Greek launch is by far its biggest job for the Golden Valley-based food giant. General Mills declined to discuss its selection of Olson for the Greek segment of the business because of the newness of the assignment.

“Our focus is pretty consistently on our brands, not on our agencies,” said spokeswoman Maerenn Jepsen.

Until recently, Olson’s previous national players have been niche accounts such as the Bauer line of hockey and skating equipment and Sun Country Airlines. The agency also has done work for Twin Cities-based companies Target, Best Buy and Ecolab.

But over the last three years, Olson has been in a growth mode, with the addition of the loyalty marketing firm Denali, Dig Communications in Chicago and the mobile agency My Thum in Toronto.

In 2011, the agency snagged Dennis Ryan as its chief creative officer. Ryan’s previous book of business included Kraft cheese, Budweiser, Frito-Lay and Discover Card. In January, Partilla was named CEO.

The growth has paid off. Olson has been engaged by Oscar Mayer to promote its iconic brand of packaged hot dogs and other meats, Saucony athletic footwear as well as TiVo, the onetime TV-recording industry leader that is attempting a comeback against cable on-demand and DVR competitors with a new line of products. The agency is also doing work for gum-and-candy giant Wrigley, including a Skittles campaign.

Not everything has come up roses, though. In June, Olson took a run at the prestigious Porsche luxury automobile account and came in second. “That’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Partilla said.

In growth mode

Olson is on pace for a double-digit increase in 2013 over its $90 million in revenue last year. Its head count stands at 450, with 330 of those occupying the agency’s relatively new digs in the Ford Center building in the North Loop of Minneapolis.

A lot is riding on the Yoplait Greek campaign. Partilla declined to say how much the project means to the agency financially other than to note General Mills will be one of Olson’s top 10 clients in terms of revenue.

“This is proof of what we want to accomplish here,” Partilla said. “We want to attract new clients and compete on a larger stage.”

But food trends and consumers are fickle.

“This is a whole new arena for Olson,” said Haley. “Packaged goods is a much more disciplined business. What Olson is doing is really difficult. Can they handle the Yoplait business? It is demanding.”

David Phelps • 612-673-7269

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  • Olson CEO John Partilla, left, and Chief Creative Officer Dennis Ryan in the agency’s North Loop offices. Olson has been growing for the past few years.

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