Mars has begun a review of its pounds 30 million global Twix
confectionery business, held by D’Arcy.
The agency has been invited to contest the business - which bills pounds
6 million in the UK - in New York next month alongside Mars’s other
worldwide networks, Grey and BBDO.
The review takes place amid mounting concern by Mars chiefs that their
chocolate-covered biscuit brand lacks a clear-cut identity and global
The news is a severe blow to D’Arcy, which had thought itself to be safe
after the company’s review of its worldwide agency arrangements at the
end of last year when it opted to retain the status quo.
But industry sources say the review included a debate about whether Twix
should be reassigned.
Mars is believed to have expressed disquiet about some of D’Arcy’s
creative work and strategic thinking on the brand in the US.
If speculation about D’Arcy’s future tenure of the Mars bar business
proves true and Twix is lost, the result could be ’catastrophic’ for the
network, according to an insider.
The review was called by Bob Gamgort, the company’s vice-president of
marketing, who was hired in August 1998 from the top marketing post in
US major league baseball. A former senior marketer at Kraft Foods, he is
said to be ’under pressure to make things happen’.
The pitch process is being led by Ken Rogers, the former agency chief
who ran the Mars global business at Bates Worldwide and was recently
promoted to spearhead Mars’s global marketing operations.
Twix was introduced into the US in 1978 as Mars looked for snack
products to offset dwindling confectionery revenues from more
Today, Twix - the UK’s fourth biggest selling chocolate brand behind
Nestle’s market-leading Kit Kat - is said to be suffering because of
inconsistent advertising. While European consumers regard it as a
biscuit, Americans, who do not buy biscuits, consider the brand to be a
In Britain, D’Arcy has been promoting Twix for the past three years via
a TV campaign featuring a nerdy character called Norm and the line,
’Take a break from the norm’.
D’Arcy is understood to believe that the strength of its work on Twix in
the UK, as well as on Skittles and Maltesers, puts it in pole position
to retain the business. One option might be to shift the US account,
which is run out of the D’Arcy office in St Louis.
’Mars tries to be very fair with its agencies,’ a source said. ’If
D’Arcy comes up with a winning idea it will hold on to the account.’