NEWS: M&C Saatchi wins pounds 9m Mars reward

Maurice Saatchi has won back his place on the Mars agency roster with a brief to relaunch the pounds 9.6 million-billing Whiskas catfood.

Maurice Saatchi has won back his place on the Mars agency roster with a

brief to relaunch the pounds 9.6 million-billing Whiskas catfood.



Mars’ Pedigree Petfoods subsidiary confirmed this week that M&C Saatchi

had been appointed to handle creative development of the brand, which

has been losing ground to its rival, Felix.



DMB&B will continue managing the account worldwide, including the UK,

and media buying will remain with the Media Centre, a DMB&B group

subsidiary.



But the decision to draft in M&C Saatchi represents a significant vote

of confidence in the breakaway shop by the US confectionery and petfood

giant, 14 months after it took revenge on the Cordiant group agencies

for Maurice’s ousting.



Michael Jenkins, Pedigree’s external relations manager, said: ‘Our

company has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with Maurice and we

believe his experience and knowledge will be beneficial to our

business.’



Mars chiefs are thought to have been reluctant to award M&C Saatchi

significant business while the agency was finding its feet. But the

assignment will surprise many in the industry who had expected it would

have to cut its teeth on a minor brand.



Whiskas has been chosen because Pedigree is keen to regain brand

leadership in the UK, which it has recently lost for the first time to

Felix, which is owned by its biggest competitor, Spillers.



The fightback is due to start in the autumn with a reformulated product

and advertising to re-energise Whiskas and give it a warmer image.



M&C Saatchi’s inclusion on the Mars roster has long seemed almost

inevitable. The company’s fury at Maurice’s firing by Cordiant at the

beginning of last year led to a review of its dollars 400 million global

business. As a result, the Cordiant-owned Saatchi and Saatchi and Bates

networks were dumped and BBDO joined Grey and DMB&B as a member of

Mars’ agency ‘club’.



Since then, Maurice has kept in frequent contact with Mars, which also

has well-established links with Jeremy Sinclair and David Kershaw, two

of M&C Saatchi’s founding partners, who worked on the company’s business

at Charlotte Street.



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