The decline of a once-famous brand was poignantly charted in two
stories in the same edition of The Guardian last week.
One page carried a report about how a shirt made for England’s soccer
captain, Bobby Moore, to wear in the 1966 World Cup Final was auctioned
for pounds 44,000. Inside it was a label bearing the message: ’Washing
instruction - use Lux.’
Fifteen pages on was the news that Unilever is to axe three-quarters of
its 1,600 consumer brands and throw all its advertising and marketing
weight behind just 400 products earmarked as having high-growth
One of the victims of the cull is likely to be Lux.
Needs must, of course, and - just as Unilever has signalled its
unwillingness to continue supporting lame duck brands - so the message
to its roster agencies is abundantly clear: take nothing for
Like its mighty rival, Procter & Gamble, which has just announced that
it is ditching the commission system, Unilever is willing to think the
And while the company is sometimes privately criticised by its agency
account teams for allowing vested interests to inhibit speed of action -
it is said to have been discussing this move for five years - it is now
set to take decisive action to boost flagging sales.
Inevitably, this will create problems as well as opportunities for
roster shops. With fewer brands, Unilever will be calling for more
concentrated advertising firepower. For agencies like Ammirati Puris
Lintas, which began life as Unilever’s house agency but has found the
relationship with its oldest client increasingly rocky of late, the task
In taking this course, Unilever has underlined its determination to see
that quality wins out among its agencies, whether they are global
networks or local players. Doing a good job will rightly reap rewards -
whatever the names are on the door.