Wrigley Shifts Media to Starcom

Move Seen as Conflict Resolution After Kraft/Cadbury Consolidate at MediaVest

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Mars Inc.'s Wrigley has shifted its media-buying duties to Starcom from MediaVest, capping a deft display of conflict management by Publicis' Starcom MediaVest Group.

The move, which involves approximately $250 million in annual measured media spending, according to Kantar Media, follows by one week Kraft Foods' announcement that it was consolidating its media duties at MediaVest. Kraft is a longtime MediaVest client, but it recently acquired confections giant (and Wrigley rival) Cadbury and last week shifted the confectioner's buying there as well.

Wrigley spent $250 million on measured media during 2008, but cut that figure back to $169 million during 2009's recession.

In a statement, a Wrigley spokeswoman made it clear that was no coincidence.

"Effective immediately, Wrigley will shift media buying responsibilities for our U.S. business from MediaVest to Starcom to resolve any competitive conflicts of interest with MediaVest and their current client roster. We are excited to continue our partnership with SMG and to be able to maintain the relationships with our current buying teams."

The win snaps a long new-business drought for Starcom. In December Starcom lost the North American communications planning duties for Gillette's men's grooming business to Aegis' Carat and last September the shop saw Applebee's shift its $150 million-plus media-planning and -buying account to Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann without a review.

In a statement, an SMG spokeswoman said: "MediaVest and Starcom are dedicated to building the best management and leadership solutions for our clients. The alignment with Mars-Wrigley -- to shift responsibilities between SMG's two powerful agency brand -- is proof of this commitment."