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Hershey chief executive officer leaves behind a legacy of change

BY Tara Smith

Richard Lenny, 55, on Monday retired from Hershey Co., America’s leading confectionary company. David West, 44, has taken over as chief executive officer. Kenneth Wolfe, a retired Hershey chief executive officer, became chairman on Tuesday.

Lenny had announced his retirement Oct. 1, 2007. He had joined to company in March 2001 as president and chief executive officer. Lenny leaves amid reports that he was at odds with the Hershey Trust Co. over the direction of the company and with the company experiencing a three-year low in its stock price. Additionally, the United States and Canada are conducting separate investigations into a price-fixing scheme among Hershey and its competitors.

The current status of the company is a marked contrast to the Hershey of Lenny’s first five years at the helm when he embarked on a value-enhancing strategy that focused on “profitable growth.” He had utilized his packaged foods background from Kraft/ Nabisco to advance Hershey’s single-serve products to alternative retail channels, extended product lines with limited editions, introduced Kissables and brought out candies for calorie-conscious consumers.

Larry Graham, president of the National Confectioners Association, a trade group in which Hershey is a longtime member said in a prepared statement that Lenny’s “leadership skills helped not only his own company move forward and realize new goals, but, in fact, propelled an industry to examine and refine the role of candy and snacks in America.”

The company currently is experiencing slowed growth due in part to its small exposure in overseas markets and its heavy reliance on the U.S. market where consumers are moving toward the antioxidant-rich dark chocolate at the expense of Hershey’s milk-chocolate lines.

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Interbrand to lead design, packaging initiatives for Wrigley

BY Tara Smith

CINCINNATI Interbrand today announced that its Cincinnati arm will lead the design and packaging initiatives for chewing gum giant Wm. Wrigley Co. of Chicago.

Ronny Kastner, executive director of the Cincinnati account management team, will serve as the Wrigley global relationship manager for the new account.

Wrigley Co., with global sales of $4 billion, produces and distributes 16 international brands and owns such chewing gum brands as Doublemint, Big Red, Winterfresh, Extra, Eclipse, Orbit and Excel, as well as confections that include mints, breath strips and candies. The company had 2007 revenues of $4.6 billion and an average two-year revenue growth of 13.3 percent, according to Bloomberg.

The Cincinnati office of Interbrand, which employs more than 100 at offices in Norwood at the Smith Road exit of I-71, expects the account to bring new jobs to its local division. Kastner led the pitch to be the single global packaging design agency for the Wrigley account.

“We are thrilled, as more than 12 agencies were at the start of the process,” Kastner said.

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Nike, Coke ring in the New Year with call to fitness ads

BY Tara Smith

NEW YORK Nike and Coca-Cola are joining the bandwagon of the fitness advertisement surge which backs the most frequent New Year’s resolution—getting in shape.

Nike and Coca-Cola today announced a two-year deal, beginning Tuesday, with fitness network Exercise TV. The deal for undisclosed terms will place Coke’s Enviga green tea and brand images on some of the channel’s workout shows and create original Enviga programming. Enviga claims to help burn calories by speeding up metabolism with green tea extracts and caffeine.

Nike returns as a title sponsor for MTV’s New Year’s celebration and will kick off a fitness ad campaign around its “No Excuses” theme. “There’s no better way to deliver an inspiring message of health and fitness for the new year to the youth of America than through MTV,” said Nike spokesman Dean Stoyer.

Trend-watcher Marian Salzman at ad agency JWT stated that Coke and Nike are seizing a good opportunity to offer people a positive, action-oriented message as they try to move on from 2007’s credit crunch, housing slump, declining dollar and other woes.

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