Saatchis dumped as Anchor reviews

Saatchi & Saatchi’s 14-year relationship with the Anchor brand is over after the client, New Zealand Milk, fired the agency from its pounds 5.5 million creative account.

Saatchi & Saatchi’s 14-year relationship with the Anchor brand is

over after the client, New Zealand Milk, fired the agency from its

pounds 5.5 million creative account.



The company, which has contacted the AAR Group in a bid to find a new

agency, confirmed that it had sacked Saatchis but declined to comment on

its reasons.



However, it is thought to have been unhappy at the agency’s decision to

allow its healthcare division to create advertising for Benecol, a new

range of low-fat spreads launched in the UK. Benecol is owned by Johnson

& Johnson, a global Saatchis client.



Media planning, handled by Zenith Media, is also under review, although

media buying, also with Zenith, is not affected. Ros Davis, director of

consumer marketing at New Zealand Milk, has previously confirmed that

the company has held talks with the strategic planning agency,

Michaelides & Bednash, although no decision has yet been taken.



The move means that Saatchis loses one of its best-known campaigns,

featuring the famous Anchor Butter dancing cows. The most recent ad, for

Anchor SoSoft butter, showed the cows taking part in a

computer-generated ski race ending in a crash.



Derek Bowden, Saatchis’ regional director for Europe, Africa and the

Middle East, said: ’It is sad to lose an account that we have handled

for so many years, but Johnson & Johnson is a huge Saatchis client. We

talked to Anchor months ago about launching Benecol and it did not seem

to be a problem. But they have taken the view that it is a competitive

product.’



Anchor was originally a client of Grandfield Rork Collins, the agency

that Saatchis took over in 1985. The company, whose products include

cream and cheese as well as butter, was expected to follow the Saatchi

brothers to their new agency, M&C Saatchi, in 1995. But the agency

fought a rearguard action to retain the business.



Marilyn Baxter, the Saatchis vice-chairman and executive planning

director, was instrumental in that fight. Baxter quit the agency last

week but her departure is said to be unconnected with the account loss.