Unilever has invited incumbent agencies Mindshare and PHD to pitch, and will
include a few "carefully selected" competitors in the mix. The
focus is on Unilever's biggest markets: North America, France,
Germany, Spain, Russia, India and China. Unilever spent $6.62
billion on worldwide measured media in 2010, according to Ad Age
DataCenter's recent Global Marketers Report.
"We want to make sure that we continue to have best-in-class
agency partners to deliver Unilever's vision: to double the size of
our business while reducing our environmental impact," Mr. Di Como
said in a statement. "We will be looking at strategic planning and
in-market execution capabilities from our agency partners."
Mr. Di Como said Unilever's new "Crafting Brands for Life"
marketing strategy and "determination to continue leading in the
digital marketing space" also "drive us to ensure that we are
working with the best agencies to deliver our ambitions. The
exercise is also in line with company policy to review media agency
With the "Crafting Brands for Life" approach, Unilever is
seeking to step up the creativity of its advertising as it also
focuses on sustainability and the shift of the its business toward
developing markets, Chief Operating Officer Harish Manwani and
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed have said in
A Unilever spokeswoman said in an email that two to three years
is the "normal timescale" for the company to review its media.
Unilever spent around $8 billion on advertising and promotion
globally last year and has forecast spending to remain around flat
this year, despite organic sales growth that topped 7% the past two
quarters. But that follows a 14% increase in spending last year,
rising commodity costs and rising prices aimed at recovering some
of those costs. Ad Age DataCenter estimates have it spending $6.62
billion on media in 2010.
Speaking during an investor conference on Unilever's
third-quarter sales results last month, Chief Financial Officer
Jean-Marc Huet didn't specifically address questions about the
direction of the giant's marketing spending. But he said Unilever
continues to spend about two thirds of its outlay on advertising
and one third on promotion, adding "we're driving more
effectiveness, so we are getting more of a bang for the buck" and
that there had been "not much change to what we've said in the
second quarter" about spending being flat this year as Unilever
tries to "increase the quality" of its spending.
The media review also follows a substantial restructuring of
Unilever's management and extensive re-assignment of management
earlier this year into eight regional "clusters" globally, which
included splitting up the former Americas region, whose media
operations Mr. Di Como formerly headed, into North and Latin
America. Unilever's global brand development group, which had been
under a single leader, was restructured into four groups --
personal care, foods, refreshment, and home care.