Packaged-goods giant Unilever has placed its estimated $6 billion global media planning and buying assignment into review, the client has confirmed. The review will commence in January 2012, and will include the incumbent agencies and a “few other carefully selected ones,” the client stated.
WPP’s Mindshare is the incumbent in North America, Western Europe and other markets. In the U.S., Unilever spent $851 million on ads last year, according to Kantar Media.
PHD won the Greater China assignment in late 2009. Annual spending there is estimated at close to $500 million. Interpublic Group's Initiative is the incumbent in Latin America.
The client just completed its last global review about two years ago, retaining WPP’s Mindshare to handle between 70% and 75% of the client's total spend, sources said. Prior to that review, Mindshare had handled slightly more of the clients' overall business.
Sources said Unilever had about another year left on its current media agency contracts and wanted to start the review process now to ensure it was complete by the time those contracts expire.
Like the last review, the current review is said to be heavily procurement-focused. The client is looking to reduce agency fees and obtain better pricing on media, per sources with knowledge of the process.
Since the last review, the company has had several changes within its senior marketing manager ranks. Keith Weed was appointed corporate chief marketing officer in April 2010. A short time later, Luis Di Como was promoted to senior vice president of global media, replacing 20-year company veteran Laura Klauberg, who left the company.
Commenting on the latest review, Di Como stated: “We want to make sure that we continue to have best-in-class agency partners to deliver Unilever’s vision -- to double the size of our business, while reducing our environmental impact. We will be looking at both strategic planning and in-market execution capabilities from our agency partners.”
Di Como added: “Our new marketing strategy, Crafting Brands for Life, and our determination to continue leading in the digital marketing space also drives us to ensure that we are working with the best agencies to deliver our ambitions.”
The company said the review would cover its four major categories, including Foods, Refreshment, Home Care and Personal Care, and that the focus would be on "leading countries," such as North America, Europe and China. The company sells products to consumers in 180 countries and did not specify which ones it considers to be the lead countries.
Last year Unilever reported revenues of more than $58 billion in revenue. Brands include Knorr, Hellman’s, Lipton, Dove, Vaseline, and others.