Global foods and household products titan Unilever – across its brand portfolio the globe’s largest advertiser – has triggered an onset of sweaty palms at the Paris office of its French media planning/buying incumbent Initiative Media Worldwide.

This followed the client's request for formal presentations from Initiative and two other combatants – MindShare and Carat International.The account currently bills €140 million ($138.36m; £87.84m) annually.

Between them Initiative (a unit of Interpublic Group) and MindShare (WPP-owned) respectively hold 46% and 52% of Unilever’s worldwide media billings.But it is uncertain at this stage whether the call for presentations will develop into a prescribed competitive pitch.

Unilever policy requires a review of all its media shops every three years – but this can range from a relaxed discussion behind closed doors to a fullscale gloves-off contest.

Data sourced from: AdAgeGlobal.com; additional content by WARC staff