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PARIS -- French agro-food giant Danone has realigned global advertising on its core biscuit account, splitting an estimated $100 million worth of business among two networks: Havas Advertising-owned Euro RSCG Worldwide and WPP Group-owned Young & Rubicam.

Euro RSCG, which already handles advertising for Danone's mineral water brand Evian in France, Hong Kong, the U.K. and the U.S., appears to be the major winner in the agency shuffle, winning about 80% of the total amount up for grabs. The network consolidates its hold on biscuit advertising in the Western European countries and picks up the lion's share of biscuit advertising previously split with Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide.

BETC Euro RSCG, Paris will be the lead agency on the new biscuit business, which covers advertising for biscuits aimed at adults, families and adolescents across its existing European markets, as well as new markets in Central and Eastern Europe currently handled by McCann-Erickson and Latin American markets managed by Grey.

Y&R, which already manages Danone's global yogurt advertising business, will now also direct biscuit advertising from its Paris office. Y&R's estimated 20% share of the biscuit business covers products marketed toward children in markets including Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden and Russia.

Danone's Asian biscuit business, managed by a dedicated regional division, was not covered by the consolidation, nor was the U.S. biscuit market, where the French group has little sales or advertising presence.

Media planning was not covered in the consolidation, and remains split between Aegis-controlled Carat and Bcom3 Group's MediaVest.

Creation of the new global biscuit account -- which covers numerous brands worldwide, including LU, Jacob's, Opavia and Prince -- is part of an ongoing consolidation at Danone of brand advertising across its three main divisions: biscuits, dairy products and water.

Earlier this year Danone consolidated advertising for its Danone Activ and Danone Taillefine mineral waters and Italian sparkling water Ferrarelle with Omnicom-owned DDB, Paris, in an account move estimated at more than $70 million for the 12 countries concerned. -- Lawrence J. Speer

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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