JWT lands pooled Unilever food task

Unilever has made the first move towards streamlining its agency arrangements to mirror its plans to axe hundreds of brands from its 1,600-strong portfolio.

Unilever has made the first move towards streamlining its agency

arrangements to mirror its plans to axe hundreds of brands from its

1,600-strong portfolio.



The move follows a pitch between Van den Bergh Foods’ lead agencies -

Lowe Lintas & Partners and J. Walter Thompson - for the pounds 60

million European food brands.



Van den Bergh confirmed on Wednesday that JWT has emerged victorious

from the pitch - the first Unilever contest undertaken by the combined

Lowe Lintas agency.



A spokesman for the client said: ’We can confirm JWT London has been

appointed to work across Europe on a major culinary project.’



Unilever declared its intention last September to axe up to 75 per cent

of its consumer brands, leaving 400 so-called ’master brands’ to receive

the bulk of the company’s marketing resources. In the foods category up

to 90 brands are expected to be rationalised down to a handful of master

brands, while strong local brands such as Oxo are unaffected.



The appointment is unlikely to immediately affect Van den Bergh’s

advertising arrangements in the UK where Lowe Lintas, Ogilvy & Mather

and Mother work on the food range.



However Lowe Lintas and Ogilvy & Mather are expected to lose creative

assignments elsewhere in Europe as a result of the move. Sources suggest

that Lowe Lintas may lose about pounds 40 million worth of business and

O&M pounds 12 million.



It is a severe blow to the combined Lowe Lintas whose merger in October

last year received the blessing of Unilever.



JWT already works on a sizeable proportion of the Unilever foods

portfolio.



It won the Colmans foods business, encompassing the Mustard and Cooking

Sauce ranges, in 1995. It also works on the Oxo and Chicken Tonight

ranges.



The last culinary brand held by Ammirati Puris Lintas was Ragu sauce,

which it lost to O&M in 1998.



The strategic pitch was called by Van den Bergh’s category director for

the culinary group, John Coombes. It took place at short notice early

this year in London.



Paul Hammersley, the chief executive of Lowe Lintas, and Stephen Carter,

chief executive of JWT, both declined to comment.



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