Mars Puts Wrigley's Extra Up for Review

With Five of Confectioner's Six Largest Candy Brands, BBDO Has Edge Over DDB

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CHICAGO ( -- Mars' Wrigley unit has put its Wrigley's Extra gum brand up for review, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Chicago offices of BBDO and DDB are competing for Extra, which spent about $35 million on measured media during 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence. The brand is currently housed at DDB and is that agency's largest piece of Mars business.

"Wrigley maintains relationships with a number of best-in-class creative partners, and as a general practice we do not comment on our creative process," said a Wrigley spokeswoman in response to an inquiry.

The Chicago offices of DDB and BBDO have had something of a tug-of-war going over chewing-gum accounts that predates Mars's 2008 acquisition of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. But there's little question BBDO -- which also handled several Mars chocolate brands before the merger -- has the upper hand now. In fact, BBDO currently handles five of the company's six largest confection brands, as measured by media spending (M&M's, Orbit, Five, Snickers and Eclipse.) Extra -- now in play -- is the sixth.

The creative account move is merely the latest in a series of agency shuffles for Mars. In May, it consolidated its $500 million-plus media buying and planning account with Publicis Groupe's MediaVest. MediaVest bested Wrigley's legacy shop MindShare in that review, which a spokeswoman said was intended to cut costs. In September, it consolidated creative on Mars' snack-food brands, including Snickers at BBDO.

Then, in November, in what struck many as yet another cost-saving step, Wrigley dumped its three digital agencies -- Digitas, Tribal DDB and -- for a trio of smaller, production-centric shops. That move sparked a debate over whether the legacy digital shops are valuable partners or merely costly middlemen.

Spokespeople for DDB and BBDO declined to comment.

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Contributing: Rupal Parekh

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