Ad Work Switched From BBDO, New York

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Unilever is shifting advertising duties for its $25 million Caress product line from Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, to WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, according to the marketer.

J. Walter Thompson did not immediately return a phone request for comment.

Measured media
Caress, a line of soaps and body care products, purchased $25 million in measured U.S. media advertising last year and $21 million in 2001, according to TNS Media Services/CMR.

Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe handles the sibling brand Lux outside the U.S.

Caress was BBDO's last Unilever brand in the U.S., after Unilever agreed to sell the Sunlight brand, which had been inactive for several years.

Two brands left at Omnicom
Most Unilever business is at JWT and sibling Ogilvy & Mather. Omnicom's only two remaining Unilever brands in this country are Degree antiperspirant, at DDB, Chicago, and Lipton soups and meal preparations, at DDB, New York, according to Advertising Age's Leading National Advertisers 2003. A 2001 Lipton campaign was handled by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which is part-owned by Publicis Groupe, rather than DDB.

Unilever has suffered a series of disappointing top-line results during the past three quarters, due primarily to declines in its Slim-Fast and prestige fragrance businesses and overall weakness in its North American home and personal care division.

Last week, the company said it will lay off 175 salaried employees in the North American home and personal care division, close its Greenwich, Conn., marketing and administrative office and move employees there to its Trumbull, Conn., technical center. Layoffs are expected to include some marketing executives now stationed in Unilever's Greenwich and Chicago offices.

In a June shakeup of its Bestfoods division, Unilever cut 130 marketing, sales and finance positions.