Lowe to battle it out with Mother to keep £7m Surf business

Lowe's grip on Lever Faberge's £7 million Surf account has come under threat following news that the company has entered talks with Mother about the business.

The two agencies are now preparing for a head-to-head pitch for the account.

It is thought that Lever Faberge is looking to spruce up the detergent brand's image following suggestions that its television strategy has underperformed recently.

Lowe's TV campaign, which featured the Birds of a Feather stars Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson for several years, won an IPA Effectiveness Award in 2000. However, it is understood that the agency has had trouble developing a credible successor campaign.

Lowe, as Unilever's main global agency partner, also handles creative for Sure deodorant, as well as for the Cif and Domestos household cleaning ranges.

Mother, however, has steadily been expanding its partnership with the FMCG giant. It won its Van den Bergh Foods' Batchelors Super Noodles account from Ammirati Puris Lintas in 1997, and since then has gone on to secure the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spread account from HHCL & Partners. It also handles Lever Faberge's Organics haircare account, which it won in 2001.

The news is a blow to Lowe, whose relationship with Unilever is crucial.

The agency has also suffered a string of losses over the past 12 months, including the lion's share of its Vauxhall account. The agency also felt compelled to resign the £43 million Orange account last year.