Nestle has moved lead creative duties for coffee brand Nescafe to Publicis Worldwide from McCann, according to multiple industry executives close to the situation.
It's the second, albeit much bigger, blow for Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned McCann on its Nestle business-one of its most lucrative and longest-standing client relationships--in the matter of a couple of weeks. The loss of global agency-of -record status for Nescafe follows the news about two weeks ago that the Nescafe account in the U.K. and Ireland was moved to Publicis; that now seems that move was a harbinger of things to come.
People familiar with the situation say Nestle -- not one to make rash decisions when it comes to partner companies-gave McCann a number of opportunities over the past several years to hang onto the Nescafe business. In response, McCann is understood to have at one point brought in former Interpublic Chairman-CEO Phil Geier to advise on its Nestle business and of recent, it moved several executives to Geneva to help that cause.
Meanwhile, working in roster shop Publicis' favor was the fact that snaring the Nescafe business has been a personal project for Publicis Groupe chief Maurice Levy, who is said to have been involved in helping Publicis secure the account.
Leading the account at Publicis has been Carter Murray, chief marketing officer and worldwide account director for Nestle, while its newly-appointed creative board will now likely have a hand in shaping messaging around the world. That's not necessarily an easy task, as Nescafe has struggled to find a voice in a competitive market for instant coffee-which Starbucks, in touting its Via instant-coffee product, has repeatedly said represents about 40% of coffee sales and a $17 billion and growing market.
Representatives for McCann declined to comment on the move, while Nestle and Publicis did not respond to requests for comment.
Nescafe instant coffees and powder mixes represent the cornerstone of the Nestle brand, which according to Ad Age 's DataCenter spent about $71 million in 2010, down from $82 million in 2009. Other members of the Nestle portfolio include pizza brands such as Digiorno, California Pizza Kitchen and Tombstone, candy brands such as Baby Ruth , Butterfinger and Nerds, ice-cream brands Haagen-Dazs, Edy's and Skinny Cow.