Agencies are on alert this week following Unilever’s declaration of
its intention to axe up to 75 per cent of its 1,600 consumer brands,
leaving 400 ’power brands’ to receive the bulk of the company’s
Although the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant will not reveal which
brands are on its hit-list, they are likely to include some of the
best-known names on the UK high street, such as Red Mountain coffee
(HHCL & Partners), Lux and Timotei (J. Walter Thompson), Brut (Ammirati
Puris Lintas), Pears (Bartle Bogle Hegarty) and Ponds (Ogilvy &
These ’non-power brands’ will either be sold or have advertising and
marketing support withdrawn so they die off of their own accord.
Two other well-known names - Sure (APL) and Lynx (BBH) - are also likely
to disappear. Neither exists outside the UK and they are known in other
markets as Rexona and Axe.
Power brands include Persil, which spends more than pounds 25 million a
year on advertising through JWT. Other core brands are Bird’s Eye and
Domestos (APL), Wall’s ice-cream (McCann-Erickson) and Dove (O&M).
Unilever’s main roster agencies - APL, JWT, McCann, O&M, BBH, HHCL and
Mother - would not comment on the announcement.
Niall Fitzgerald, Unilever’s chairman, outlined his plans this week to
develop ’further margin expansion, greater capital efficiency and
stronger top-line growth’.
The strategy has been developed over the past two years as a measure to
boost the company’s flagging sales growth and to cut costs.
At present, one quarter of Unilever’s brands provide 90 per cent of