D'Arcy on alert as Mars Bar reviews

Mars Europe is calling a review of its pan-European Mars Bar

creative account, a move that further weakens D'Arcy's relations with

the advertiser.



The decision to review is thought to have been taken last week following

a meeting of senior Mars executives in the United States.



Agency sources close to Mars suggest that there have been discussions

over several weeks about D'Arcy's ability to handle advertising for the

brand. One source said: "There have been persistent rumours that Mars is

not happy with D'Arcy's performance and there have been recent

discussions at Mars about this."



The review is likely to mean that the global account will move to one of

Mars' other two global networks: BBDO and Grey Worldwide.



Doubts have been raised over D'Arcy's relationship with Mars on other

brands. In late 1999 Mars was expected to reduce its agency roster from

three networks to two. However, it decided not to go down this route,

opting instead to keep faith with all three networks but to hand

individual brands to its best performing agencies.



However, Mars did move the global creative account for Twix out of

D'Arcy and handed it instead to Grey last year. The remaining Mars

brands handled by D'Arcy are the Skittles, Revels, Topic, Maltesers and

Tracker. Of these, Skittles is the only international brand.



D'Arcy seemed to have tightened its hold on the Mars Bar account when

late last year it was handed a brief to develop an international

campaign to redefine the brand. Its London office is leading the

creative team.



The ad, which has been completed, is due to run in the UK and other

European markets imminently.



Advertising spend for Mars Bar is pounds 6 million in the UK, according

to ACNielsen MMS. The product is most popular in Europe where D'Arcy ran

the pounds 10 million "Everybody should be this good" campaign a year

ago. Its most recent UK campaigns for the brand include the "Reach out

and touch somebody" work, which was linked to promotional activity, and

the launch of Mars 5 Little Ones.



Mars and D'Arcy were unavailable for comment as Campaign went to press.



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