EVEREADY KEEPS GOING WITH NEW PRODUCTS REVIEW: NO. 2 MARKETER TALKS TO FORMER, CURRENT SHOPS

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Eveready Battery Co. is quietly briefing a handful of agencies about an undisclosed new-products assignment with worldwide scope.

The business up for grabs at the world's No. 2 battery company is said to focus on new lines, but some executives close to the company speculated that Eveready, about to be spun off by parent Ralston Purina Co., may be looking to consolidate its international accounts.

Agencies involved in the review, now in the credentials stage, are current or former roster shops. They are said to include TBWA Worldwide, DDB Worldwide, Bates Worldwide and Leo Burnett Co. The agencies either couldn't be reached or declined comment.

TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa Del Rey, Calif., has handled the $60 million Energizer battery brand for a decade. DDB was the former Energizer agency; it actually created the pink Energizer Bunny icon as a one-time ad.

Burnett's Starcom Worldwide handles media buying for Ralston while Bates handles Energizer in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

CHARGED-UP RIVALS

Eveready, which trails Gillette Co.'s Duracell in the $12 billion worldwide battery industry, markets both the Energizer and Eveready brands. Once a close second, Everyready has since seen both the Gillette brand and No. 3 Rayovac Corp. eat into its share. Duracell leads the battery category with 39.8% share of unit sales, according to A.C. Nielsen figures supplied by Rayovac. Eveready trails with a 30.4% share, followed by Rayovac at 16.8%.

'A LOT OF IRONS IN FIRE'

An Energizer executive maintains TBWA's Energizer relationship is solid. In fact, the agency is currently shooting the battery company's annual preholiday ad campaign that will debut in October.

A spokesman for Energizer declined to comment on the review, but said, "As we move towards a spinoff, we're looking to expand our marketing partners on a project-by-project basis."

He added: "We have a lot of irons in the fire," but "at this time, we have no specific plans to replace any ad partners."

TBWA's latest campaign was an aggressive one that landed E.B., as its signature bunny is known inside parent Ralston, in court. Rival Gillette filed a lawsuit contending the Popular Electronics tests on which Energizer bases its superiority claim were unscientific.

A U.S. District Court judge in the Southern District of New York agreed in May and told Ralston to pull the ads.

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