Miles Calcraft scoops £5m Benecol task

LONDON - Saatchi & Saatchi has lost the battle to retain its £3.5m Benecol account, for which it created the campaign using Carol Vorderman as the brand's spokeswoman.

Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy triumphed in the pitch, which was co-ordinated by the AAR. The account move is expected to sound the death-knell for Vorderman's starring role, but the agency would not be drawn on the subject.

A spokeswoman for McNeil Consumer Products, which markets the spread for Johnson & Johnson in the UK, would only confirm MCBD's appointment.

However, sources agree that Vorderman faces the axe. The company is expected to back the new creative treatment with a £5 million spend.

Jeremy Miles, chairman of MCBD, said, "The whole pitch process has been thoroughly collaborative and enjoyable.

"We are thrilled with the result and are 100 per cent committed to playing our part in the future success of the Benecol brand."

Saatchis launched the spread, which claims to reduce cholesterol levels, in the beginning of 1999. It cast Vorderman as spokeswoman, hoping to capitalise on her image as an intelligent woman, who could understand and explain the scientific claims made by Benecol.

Subsequent advertising has shown her interviewing elderly people on the sofa talking about Benecol-branded yogurts.

The brand's review is said to have been sparked by the client's dissatisfaction with creative treatment. Johnson & Johnson's Benecol beat Unilever's Flora Pro-Activ to the market by several months, but it faces stiff competition from the more established Flora brand name.

Earlier this year Unilever launched a campaign backing Flora Pro-Activ that starred Olympic rower Steve Redgrave. The commercial was created by Lowe Lintas.

The move is a blow to Saatchis, which lost its Anchor butter account in 1999, in part owing to its Benecol appointment. The agency's Benecol account director, Scott Morrison, left Saatchis last week to join Wieden & Kennedy, where he will run the Nike business.

The appointment of MCBD gives it a coveted place on the Johnson & Johnson roster, which shared by Saatchis, Lowe Lintas and BMP DDB. The departure of Benecol leaves Saatchis with brands including Daktarin, Imodium, Liviston and Pepcid AC.


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