O&M dropped as Unilever realigns

- Unilever has realigned its European and Asian laundry cleaning roster, dropping Ogilvy & Mather and splitting the £160 million business between its two other agencies Ammirati Puris Lintas and J Walter Thompson.

- Unilever has realigned its European and Asian laundry cleaning roster, dropping Ogilvy & Mather and splitting the £160 million business between its two other agencies Ammirati Puris Lintas and J Walter Thompson.

O&M, which had a 10 per cent stake of the business, loses an estimated £16 million in global billings. However, the realignment has little impact in the UK where the agency loses only the £800,000 Radion brand.

APL now holds 60 per cent of the business with JWT taking a 40 per cent stake. Unilever said the switch was designed to "derive increased benefits of focus and scale and maximise the value derived from current centres of expertise. "The realignment does not affect the US, where O&M retains the Surf account.

A spokesman added that the move should not reflect on O&M which he said had "made excellent contributions in the past". "O&M will continue to provide valued service to Unilever's business in other categories such as skincare, personal wash, deodorant and fabric conditioners."

The move is the responsibility of Theo Rodgrigues, Unilever's senior vice-president for laundry.

Decisions on realigning other brands will be taken in local markets. Brands include Persil, Surf, Omo, Drive and Skip.

Lionel Godfrey, O&M's worldwide client services director on Unilever, said: "Radion spent £800,000 on a poster campaign in 1997. To all intents and purposes, it has been dormant as a brand. This is a tidying up process by Unilever in a category where we had a very small share of the business. Sometimes such realignments work in our favour and sometimes they don't."

The realignment is the latest in a series of blows for Ogilvy & Mather, which last month lost lead agency status on the Ford account to Young & Rubicam, and earlier in the year lost its prestigious Guinness account.



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