IPG, WPP in Global KO Contest for Unilever Detergents

22 February 2005

Agency titans Interpublic Group and WPP Group, which between them share Unilever's Omo group of premium laundry detergent brands, are to battle toe-to-toe for sole global possession of the account - which also includes sub-brands Skip, Persil and Ala.

The business, currently split between WPP's JWT network and IPG's Lowe & Partners Worldwide, is to undergo a multi-agency review commencing March in which the winner will scoop the entire €200 million ($261.5m; £138.0m) annual jackpot. Both incumbents have been invited to compete.

Says Omo global brand director David Arkwright: "This does not signal dissatisfaction or criticism of the agencies involved, but is rather a reflection of Unilever streamlining its brand structure in laundry. It is an agency review in the true sense, a chance for us to look at the whole ethos and culture around how we look."

As of April this year Unilever will combine under a single board of directors chaired in a non-executive capacity by Anthony Burgmans, the current chairman of the group's Dutch operations. UK chairman Patrick Cescau will become group chief executive.

The new structure houses three regional directors, respectively responsible for the Americas, Europe and Asia/Africa, under whom there will be two category presidents for foods and home/personal care.

The simplified organisation replaces three divisions, eleven business groups and a senior management tree split along country lines.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff