SAATCHI SET TO SNARE $30 MIL SNAP! ACCOUNT: SEPARATELY, N.Y. GAINS SAFEGUARD AS P&G CONSOLIDATES GLOBALLY

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Saatchi & Saatchi's San Francisco office this week is expected to be named agency for online search engine Snap!, an account worth as much as $30 million.

Late last week, the agency's New York office won the consolidated worldwide account for Procter & Gamble Co.'s Safeguard bar soap.

Safeguard had been handled by Saatchi & Saatchi in Europe and Asia; Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, New York, in the U.S.; and Leo Burnett Co. in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

A P&G spokeswoman would not comment on whether there will be greater ad support behind the brand or whether the shift is part of a broader global realignment. Worldwide spending figures for Safeguard were not available; U.S. spending last year on the brand was $4.8 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

In the U.S., Safeguard is the No. 10 bar soap brand with sales of $50.2 million for the 52 weeks ended June 28, down 2.4% from the prior year, according to Information Resources Inc.

The brand's market share is 3.6%, in the $1.4 billion category.

EXPANDING ASSIGNMENTS

Saatchi's strategy, under CEO Kevin Roberts, has been focused more on winning additional assignments from existing clients such as P&G and Toyota Motor Corp. than on gaining new clients.

Snap! is a year-old search engine created by Saatchi client CNET, and now owned partly by NBC.

At press time, Snap! VP-Marketing Julie Welch said a final decision is expected this week. She would not name contenders for the account, but Ammirati Puris Lintas and Ogilvy & Mather, both New York, were said to be the other finalists.

Snap!'s first branding campaign is set to be launched today on NBC. The initial spots, created by Shelly Palmer Productions, will run for six weeks before being replaced by ads from the new shop in time for a bigger fall push.

NBC'S MOVE FOR SNAP!

NBC took a 19% ownership stake of Snap! in June, with an option to increase that to 60%. Four NBC executives were named to the Snap! board last week, giving NBC the majority of board seats as it prepares to put its mark on the company.

The two wins together will boost Saatchi's 1998 U.S. new-business total to more than $200 million; other wins include the $20 million Provident Cos. account and $10 million Beck's beer account for Beck's North America.

Saatchi & Saatchi appears to be winning back P&G's favor after losing the Ivory soap business to Grey Advertising, New York, last year.

The agency since has picked up other P&G accounts, including those for Oil of Olay skincare and the new Physique haircare line.

Contributing: Beth Snyder, Jack Neff.

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