Unilever will retain WPP's Mindshare as its media-buying agency in the U.S., the first shoe to drop in a $6 billion global review by the client.
The news was first reported by Advertising Age. The publication reported that Unilever switched gears and decided not to review that assignment as part of its ongoing global media review. However, planning is still up for grabs.
Unilever spends around $850 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.
Neither Unilever or Mindshare would comment on the review or the report, but other sources familiar with the process confirmed that the WPP agency has retained Unilever for U.S. buying duties.
Sources indicated that Unilever may have punted the U.S. buying review, due to pressures surrounding the upfront market, which is just now getting underway. A logistical nightmare may have ensued had the client switched agencies just before or during that market.
Some sources reported that Mindshare may have added to the pressure by demanding that Unilever retain the agency for buying or have another shop ready to do its upfront work this year. That, in turn, had the client recently asking other agencies to quickly work up buying strategies and numbers for the upfront, in the event that the consumer goods company and Mindshare suddenly parted ways.
No comment from Unilever or Mindshare, although the head of one competitor familiar with the situation described Mindshare’s tactic as “a brilliant move."
There is no consensus on when the planning portion of the review will be complete. Some believe it will be done by the end of the second quarter; others say it will take longer.