Conflict forces McCain account out of Burnett

LONDON - Leo Burnett will lose the £15 million McCain account it should have inherited from D'Arcy because of client conflict with the agency's flagship Heinz business.

McCain has said it will terminate the relationship with D'Arcy as soon as the two agencies are merged and will hold off on an immediate pitch until early 2003.

Julie Leivers, the marketing director at McCain, said: "Rather than going to pitch immediately, we are taking the opportunity to re-assess our brand and communications strategy."

The branding agency Elephants Can't Jump has been hired to work on the assessment with the other creative incumbent, Campbell Doyle Dye, but Leivers refused to comment further on above-the-line arrangements.

CDD joined D'Arcy on the McCain business when it won a £4 million brief to launch a new product, Vibes, in August, without a pitch. Media for the entire account is handled by PHD Compass.

It is thought the two-agency roster system has initially worked well for McCain, and that Leivers will reinstate this once McCain has concluded its assessment. The decision also coincides with McCain's move to take advantage of a frozen-food market buoyant with new product launches and rising sales.

Last year, the frozen food market in the UK grew 2 per cent to be worth £3.34 million, with rival companies such as Birds Eye Walls confronting the growing chilled fresh food sector head-on with several innovations.

"D'Arcy has made an invaluable contribution to our business in the past five years. We wish all the people we know there every success for the future," Leivers said.

The former D'Arcy managing director, now Leo Burnett's chairman, Barry Cook, said: "It's a great shame that we're parting company with McCain, but we respect and understand the decision. We have enjoyed five great years working on the McCain business, producing some excellent advertising in the process."