Havas' MPG to Hold on to $100 Million North-American Danone Media Account

Mediaedge:cia Said to Retain U.K. Business; Omnicom to Handle in China

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After a global review encompassing nearly 20 markets, Group Danone is expected to keep one of the largest chunks of its half-billion dollar global media-buying and planning account -- the $100 million North American portion -- at Havas' MPG.

Danone's product offerings include Evian and Activia and Dannon yogurt.
Danone's product offerings include Evian and Activia and Dannon yogurt.
Decisions on global regions have not been finalized, but industry executives believe WPP's Mediaedge:cia, which pitched against MPG in the U.S., will retain the U.K. business it's held since 2006 and which is worth approximately $40 million, and that Omnicom Group's OMD will control the company's entire $150 million planning and buying account in China, after capturing the portions of the business it didn't already manage.

MPG and OMD referred all calls to the client and Mediaedge:cia couldn't be reached at press time. A Danone spokesman in the U.S. said the company didn't "have a comment at this time because the winning agency has not yet been formally notified."

The review was done on a market-by-market basis and included other regions, including Mexico, Portugal, France and Russia.

Like several major account reviews this year, Danone's was procurement-led, which explains why much of the business isn't shifting shops. "It's all about price," one agency leader said of the Danone process back in August. "They are notorious about price."

A sampling of the request-for-proposal Danone sent out to agencies, shared with Ad Age, revealed as much. Danone shops agencies with question after question, such as: "Can you [provide] precise flexibility of budget you allow to keep these guarantees for 2010?" "Could you improve beyond the 2010 grid?" "Can you improve your net CPM?" "Can you improve the net GRP?" "Can you improve the level of guarantee and penalty you're willing to give to reach the financial commitment?"

"Every single question was about pricing," an executive said. "This Danone pitch was purely about money. ... Their first set of questions, I'm not joking, was the most arduous set of spreadsheets we have ever filled in. These are the people who treat media as an utter commodity."

Danone's product offerings include Evian and Activia and Dannon yogurt.

Contributing: Rupal Parekh

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