In a deal that links one of the world’s largest advertisers with the largest media group, Unilever has forged an advertising and research alliance with AOL Time Warner in what is said to be a multi-million dollar pact.

Under the agreement, Unilever products will be promoted across AOL TW’s manifold on and offline properties – the latest in a growing fad for cross-platform tie-ups. Last year, rival consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble inked a similar arrangement with Viacom worth $300 million [WAMN: 31-May-01].

However, the latest deal is hyped as more than just an advertising partnership. The contract, say the two signatories, includes provision for the pooling of internet expertise as well as customer and marketing knowledge.

AOL TW’s America Online web division, the largest ISP in the world, will share research findings with Unilever’s laboratories in New Jersey, which are striving to create new technology for homes and mobile phones.

“This is a groundbreaking agreement that goes beyond simply agreeing to a traditional multi-platform media deal,” enthused Unilever US president/ceo Charles Strauss. “Our two companies will work together, both in the US and in Europe, on customizing brand growth and marketing strategies to drive our leading brands.”

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)