Alberto-Culver Splits Media Account Between Maxus, Carat

Procurement-Driven Global Review Has Billings of $150 Million

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Personal care and household-product marketer Alberto-Culver Co. has awarded the U.S. portion of its $150 million global media account to WPP's Maxus after a seven-month global review, according to executives with knowledge of the situation. The U.S. incumbent, Aegis' Carat, is poised to retain the business in Europe while picking up the Canadian and Mexican portions of the account, the executives said. The U.S. business represents nearly $90 million.

Carat could not be reached for comment, and Maxus declined comment, referring calls to the marketer. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative was the third agency competing for the business.

Alberto-Culver spokeswoman Brandy Ruff said the company has not yet made a final decision, which is expected within the next two weeks, but that Carat and Maxus are on the short list. She said the assignment could still go to just one of the shops, and that geographic assignments haven't yet been made.

'Cost-driven pitch'
Markets that were up for grabs in the pitch included the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Portugal, Spain, the Nordics, Australia and New Zealand. One executive with knowledge of the review said this was a "root and branch procurement exercise" across the whole of Alberto-Culver, examining the pricing of every single element of what the marketer does, from the "cost of hair coloring through to the cost of coffee beans."

Alberto-Culver did not comment regarding the nature of the review.

The company spent $240 million on global advertising last year and has averaged around $250 million annually over the past three years, according to company financial reports. Billings, according to people with knowledge of the review, are $150 million.

Alberto-Culver brands include Noxzema, VO5, Nexxus, St. Ives, Tresemme and Static Guard.

Last month the company wrapped up its creative review, shifting the account to Havas' Arnold Worldwide, New York, and Interpublic's Mullen, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Maxus earlier this year was named to Ad Age's Agencies to Watch list. Group M, the unit that oversees WPP's media shops, has said it would look to establish Maxus as a major player in the U.S., making it the fourth arm of its media unit in the U.S., along with Mindshare, MediaCom and Mediaedge:cia.

Carat, meanwhile, expanded its Pfizer duties when the pharma giant consolidated all of its media buying for Wyeth DTC with the agency. The shop also picked up the $100 million Beiresdorf planning and buying account back in March.

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Jack Neff contributed to this report.

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