Mars has compensated M&C Saatchi for the loss of its pounds 10 million Whiskas catfood business by appointing it to launch its online portal for pet owners.
Offering veterinary and nutritional advice, Mypetstop.com will enable Mars' Pedigree Masterfoods subsidiary to build a detailed database of the UK's five million pet owners.
The agency lost the Whiskas account, for which it had produced high-profile work, to the BBDO network as part of a European realignment at the end of last year.
At the time, Mars indicated that the gap would be plugged by other work and the agency is understood to have been developing work on the portal for several months.
A TV-led campaign, expected to break in the first half of next year, will pitch Mypetstop.com against online operators including Pets- Pyjamas, which launched with a branding campaign through Saatchi & Saatchi in March but has since been sold off, and Petspark.com, which appointed TBWA/London to its pounds 10 million European account in May.
Moray MacLennan, the M&C Saatchi joint chief executive, said: 'Mars made us no promises when we lost Whiskas but we were always hopeful that the work we had done on the account would stand us in good stead.'
Mypetstop.com will draw on the knowledge of Waltham, its specialist petcare and nutrition division.
It aims to offer not only detailed but personalisied information tailored to meet the needs of individual pet owners.
Ann Franke, the vice-president for European petcare marketing at Mars, said: 'M&C Saatchi's track record with Pedigree Masterfoods made it a natural partner to develop the advertising for this project.'