Unilever gives McCann major role on media roster

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SYDNEY -- In his first major decision since joining Unilever at the beginning of June, Worldwide Media Director Alan Rutherford has elevated McCann-Erickson Worldwide to a major position on the marketer's media roster, awarding McCann, Sydney, its $70 million Australian media buying business.

MindShare, Sydney, loses Australia's No. 5 ad spender following a pitch that also included Initiative Media.

Previously, McCann held just 2%-3% of Unilever's global media buying, in countries such as Korea and Switzerland. It last handled the Australian account in 1994, sharing the business with J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather and Initiative. Between 1994 and 1996, JWT and Initiative ran Unilever's Australian account, before JWT alone (now incorporated within MindShare) was appointed to a two year contract.

"There are global dynamics we now realize we have to counter [such as cross-media packages from one owner] and McCann Australia has the best vision for that market," says Mr. Rutherford. The agency "offered the best solution for us in all ways - their people, attitude, systems and commitment."

Australia is a major market for Unilever [it's the marketer's tenth biggest] "and we need to make sure we get the best performance from our media agencies [there]," Mr. Rutherford adds. The agency switch is effective from the beginning of 1999.

The move is part of Mr. Rutherford's global plan to revamp the way in which Unilever approaches its media process. Australia was targeted for an early review in his tenure partly because its consolidated media ownership has driven rapid changes in the media scene.

Mr. Rutherford joined Unilever from Ogilvy & Mather's The Network, now MindShare, in the U.K.

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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