Conflicted: Unilever exec wary of shop links to P&G

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Note to Unilever's roster shops: Better call off those merger talks with Procter & Gamble Co. ad agencies.

When package-goods giant P&G loosened its policy on account conflicts last year, many industry observers expected nothing short of a complete reshaping of the agency landscape. Global networks that formerly wouldn't have given each other a second glance because of client-conflict policies would suddenly be soul mates in this new world, observers said.


Of course, for that to happen, P&G's biggest rival also would have to loosen its conflict policy. And that's just not happening, said Unilever Chairman Antony Burgmans.

"We are not happy with conflict situations," Mr. Burgmans told Advertising Age. "We can tolerate minor conflict situations, but in principle we think you should keep it separated. Because if you want the intimacy of the relationship . . . it's completely built on trust, and you shouldn't have in the back of your mind this move to places where you don't want to be.

"So I think conflict of interest must be avoided."

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