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United Biscuits is moving creative for its entire $102 million international ad business to Publicis Communication from Leo Burnett Co., both London.

Burnett loses creative on the cookie and snack food marketer's business outside the U.K. -- 18 countries, not including the U.S. where UB is no longer a marketing factor -- plus its portion of advertising in UB's home country, which it shared with Publicis. The two shops were the only participants in the review.


Burnett retains media buying assignments for both McVitie's cookies and KP snacks in all countries outside the U.S. United Biscuits spends $68 million outside the U.K. and $34 million in the U.K.

"This is a monster win for us," said Richard Hytner, chief executive of Publicis' London office.

The shift does not affect two smaller subbrands -- McVitie's Prepared Foods and Young's frozen and chilled foods -- handled by Mellors Reay & Partners, a London agency owned by Grey Advertising.

The international agency change is part of a new, concerted effort by the food group to consolidate and expand its business overseas. The strategy shift has been instigated by Edward Jackson, hired from Unilever last July as managing director-development operations.

"It's about injecting some kind of discipline into managing brands across markets," said an executive familiar with the strategy.

Mr. Jackson, who led the review, was unavailable for comment at press time.


Advertising for what Mr. Jackson describes as UB's "power brands" -- those with real international potential -- will be run initially from Publicis' London office.

The three brands the company will focus on are Go Ahead!, a low-fat line of biscuits, cakes, snacks and frozen products currently sold in the U.K., Sweden, the Netherlands and Hong Kong; Delacre, a cookie line bought from Campbell Soup Co. in June and marketed in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands; and French brand BN.

For other brands, UB subsidiaries will work with local Publicis offices.

Mr. Hytner said that if a brand outside the U.K. shows international potential, that local office will likely be lead agency.

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