BBDO and TBWA profit as Mars ditches Grey

The BBDO network will take on above-the-line advertising for Mars bar and Milky Way after Masterfoods' decision to scale down its global relationship with Grey drastically.

At the same time, the Twix, Galaxy and Starburst accounts are being assigned to TBWA\Worldwide.

However, Nitro, the creative hotshop which has been building links with Masterfoods, will retain the US Twix brief, which it has already wrested from Grey. It will also handle advertising for Galaxy in the US, where it is marketed under the name Dove.

Masterfoods announced last week that it was consolidating its global business within the Omnicom-owned BBDO and TBWA, leaving Grey with only some below-the-line activity.

BBDO's assignments add to a Masterfoods portfolio including Maltesers, M&M's, Celebrations, Bounty, Snickers, Topic and Revels.

TBWA already handles Pedigree, Whiskas, Skittles, Tunes and Lockets.

Grey sources acknowledged that some redundancies were inevitable as a result of the network's loss of its above-the-line assignments on Masterfoods brands by the end of the year.

However, the Grey agency in London is looking to redeploy most of the ten-strong team responsible for co-ordinating Masterfoods' business across Europe. MediaCom's UK Masterfoods account is unaffected by the changes.

"We'll take a hit, but some of our best people work on Mars and we are focused on keeping them on board," a Grey insider said. "The loss is a blow but it won't have the impact that it would have had five years ago."

Grey is understood to be in the process of producing new TV work for a number of Masterfoods brands in the UK. It is unclear whether any of it will get the chance to go on air.

Industry sources claim it was the failure of the Grey agency in New York to satisfy Mars' demands that doomed the relationship.

Masterfoods' senior executives in Europe are believed to have been taken by surprise by the announcement from the US, having already signed off new work created by Grey. It is understood that some managers knew nothing of the move until Grey told them.

Meanwhile, Grey chiefs are expected to look to the network's new WPP parent for help in seeking alternative confectionery and petcare business to replace the Masterfoods loss.

- Live Issue, p16.