Opinion: Mars review shows it is an advocate of change

The only predictable thing about Mars is that it isn’t. Just when everybody was writing off the global agency review carried out by the confectionery-to-cat food multinational as a colossal anti-climax, it calls a pitch on pounds 30 million worth of worldwide Twix business.

The only predictable thing about Mars is that it isn’t. Just when

everybody was writing off the global agency review carried out by the

confectionery-to-cat food multinational as a colossal anti-climax, it

calls a pitch on pounds 30 million worth of worldwide Twix business.



Sighs of relief will certainly be giving way to anxiety attacks at

D’Arcy, which appeared to have survived with its Mars brand portfolio

intact but which must now battle to prevent Twix being reassigned.



D’Arcy is right to be worried. Mars may be one of its most steadfast

clients - as well as providing critical mass and a huge contribution to

overheads - but it is also one of the most demanding. So much so that

old loyalties are in danger of being overridden in its quest for the

best possible advertising.



Like a giant slowly waking from its slumbers, Mars has begun to see the

light and stretch its muscles. Having stifled innovation and bred

complacency among its agencies for so many years, the company has come

to acknowledge that tired and formulaic advertising will no longer see

it through.



Today, Mars is questioning its most fundamental articles of faith. In

particular, whether the creation and implementation of its strategy need

necessarily be done by a single network.



Hence the addition of ’challenger’ agencies such as M&C Saatchi, whose

recent appointment to handle certain ’new-business opportunities’ to

compensate for the realignment of its Whiskas cat food business

indicates a burgeoning relationship.



Threats from newer kids on the block like BBDO have already forced old

Mars hands like D’Arcy to raise their game. But its successes have been

patchy, with isolated shining examples of creative work, such as the

Maltesers campaign in the UK, eclipsed by client concern about the

strategic direction of Twix in the US and the on-going problems with

Mars bar.



Not long ago, the loss of such a bedrock client would have been

inconceivable at D’Arcy. But who knows how much longer the unthinkable

will remain so, as Mars’ creative conversion proceeds.



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