Haagen-Dazs to review &pound;20m <br>pan-European advertising

LONDON - Haagen-Dazs, the luxury ice-cream brand owned by Pillsbury, is preparing to review its £20 million pan-European advertising account.

The review comes as General Mills is poised to buy Pillsbury and its assets from Diageo. The manufacturer is said to be considering the incumbent, Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, Saatchi & Saatchi, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and another agency, as yet undisclosed, for the account, which is worth £6 million in the UK. However, it is not known if Euro RSCG, which won the business three years ago, will repitch.

Meetings with shortlisted networks are expected by the end of the month.

The desire to review is said to have come from General Mills. The company sees the Häagen-Dazs brand as too direct a rival to Ben & Jerry's, which is handled by Black Rocket Euro RSCG, a Euro RSCG network agency in San Francisco.

James Moseley, Pillsbury UK's managing director, denied that he had approached agencies. However, he added: "At some point we are likely to become part of General Mills. That may affect our agency situation."

The news comes shortly after Euro RSCG unveiled a high profile, £6.5 million campaign for Haagen-Dazs, which plays on New Age humour and introduces the strapline: "Pleasure is the path to joy." It features a group of people on a spiritual retreat who learn to experience joy by eating Haagen-Dazs ice-cream, under the guidance of a sensologist.

Euro RSCG won the account in 1998. Previously it had been handled by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which produced ground-breaking and controversial advertising for the brand throughout the 90s. The work, which presented the ice-cream as a seduction tool, featured entwined couples indulgently feeding the ice-cream to each other.

The account was handed to Euro RSCG in a bid to co-ordinate its marketing strategy across Europe into a unified, easily recognised brand message. However, according to Moseley, Pillsbury is in the process of decentralising the Haagen-Dazs account out of London into individual Euro RSCG offices in Europe. The New Age campaign is running in the UK only, unlike the previous "100 per cent perfect" campaign.

Media on the account, which is handled by Carat, will not be affected by the review. Carat works across the range of Pillsbury brands.

The acquisition of Pillsbury will give General Mills ownership of the Green Giant vegetable range, the Jus-Rol range and Old El Paso Mexican food. Leo Burnett is the company's principal agency in the UK.

The news comes as Ben & Jerry's reviews its UK ad account. The company is drawing up a shortlist through the AAR.