Mars to call pounds 30m global Twix review

Mars has begun a review of its pounds 30 million global Twix confectionery business, held by D’Arcy.

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

strategy.



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

health-conscious consumers.



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

chocolate bar.



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.’



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