The only predictable thing about Mars is that it isn’t. Just when
everybody was writing off the global agency review carried out by the
confectionery-to-cat food multinational as a colossal anti-climax, it
calls a pitch on pounds 30 million worth of worldwide Twix business.
Sighs of relief will certainly be giving way to anxiety attacks at
D’Arcy, which appeared to have survived with its Mars brand portfolio
intact but which must now battle to prevent Twix being reassigned.
D’Arcy is right to be worried. Mars may be one of its most steadfast
clients - as well as providing critical mass and a huge contribution to
overheads - but it is also one of the most demanding. So much so that
old loyalties are in danger of being overridden in its quest for the
best possible advertising.
Like a giant slowly waking from its slumbers, Mars has begun to see the
light and stretch its muscles. Having stifled innovation and bred
complacency among its agencies for so many years, the company has come
to acknowledge that tired and formulaic advertising will no longer see
Today, Mars is questioning its most fundamental articles of faith. In
particular, whether the creation and implementation of its strategy need
necessarily be done by a single network.
Hence the addition of ’challenger’ agencies such as M&C Saatchi, whose
recent appointment to handle certain ’new-business opportunities’ to
compensate for the realignment of its Whiskas cat food business
indicates a burgeoning relationship.
Threats from newer kids on the block like BBDO have already forced old
Mars hands like D’Arcy to raise their game. But its successes have been
patchy, with isolated shining examples of creative work, such as the
Maltesers campaign in the UK, eclipsed by client concern about the
strategic direction of Twix in the US and the on-going problems with
Not long ago, the loss of such a bedrock client would have been
inconceivable at D’Arcy. But who knows how much longer the unthinkable
will remain so, as Mars’ creative conversion proceeds.