Mars gives £60m accounts to TBWA

Mars is bolstering its relationship with TBWA Worldwide by switching £60 million worth of global business - including advertising for its Skittles, Tunes and Lockets brands - from the BBDO network.

In the UK, the major loser in the shake-up is Minerva, part of the Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO group, which last week unveiled a new national poster campaign for Lockets under the theme: "Lighten-up your cold."

The realignment is being interpreted as a reward for TBWA, which resigned its pan-European Cadbury business 18 months ago to take on a number of the Mars-owned Masterfoods petcare brands.

TBWA's assignment includes the launch of a new sugar confectionery brand later this year. The change in agency is also believed to be the precursor to moves to expand Lockets and Tunes beyond the UK to take advantage of the burgeoning market for medicated confectionery.

The redistribution of business is in line with Mars' policy of giving extra work to roster agencies that are deemed to be performing well and in order to keep the thinking behind its brands constantly refreshed.

Industry sources claim that AMV's decision to move the Tunes and Lockets accounts into Minerva - to avoid a potential clash with its Wrigleys gum business - might have been interpreted by Mars as a lack of commitment to the brands.

For TBWA, the new work adds to the estimated 19 per cent of Mars business currently handled by the network, the rest being split between Grey Worldwide and BBDO. It indicates Mars' satisfaction with its work on the Whiskas and Chappie petfood brands assigned to the agency in July 2002. Minerva, then known as AMV Advance, took on Skittles, which was previously with the now defunct D'Arcy, at the same time.