Agency executives said the three-agency review ended up being a decision between global teams at DDB and Lowe, a McCann sibling at Interpublic Group of Cos.
Bob Scarpelli, chairman and chief creative officer at DDB Worldwide, part of Omnicom Group, was involved in his agency's pitch. The Lowe pitch was led by Lowe Worldwide CEO Tony Wright and Fernando Vega Olmos, a leading creative from Argentina who was previously Lowe's worldwide creative director on Unilever.
The lead agency will be Lola Madrid, a new Latin hub agency set up in Spain last year to replace Lowe's former, unsuccessful agency for Spain and to win international business. Mr. Vega Olmos is chairman of that agency. (Lola is short for Lowe Latina).
Unilever's ice-cream company is called Walls, and the main brands include Magnum and Cornetto. Unilever runs its international ice-cream business from Rome.
Becomes Unilever's biggest shop
Until now Lowe has been primarily a home- and personal-care-products agency for Unilever. If confirmed next week, the ice-cream win would more than triple Lowe's food business with Unilever and establish Lowe as Unilever's biggest agency.
Executives at McCann and DDB declined to comment and referred calls to Unilever. Lowe did not immediately return calls.
Media was not included in the review.
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Contributing: Rupal Parekh and Emma Hall