Mars has put the £24 million pan-European account of its Uncle Ben’s rice brand up for review.

The news comes as a particularly heavy blow to incumbent D’Arcy, also defending the Europe-wide business of the client’s flagship Mars Bar brand [WAMN: 25-May-01]. The loss of both, said one anonymous insider, would be “tantamount to putting D’Arcy off the Mars roster in Europe.”

The agency, however, retains the Dolmio pasta sauces and meals range, produced, like Uncle Ben’s, by Mars unit Pedigree Masterfoods and not part of the review.

As with the Mars Bar pitch, D’Arcy faces competition from the candy firm’s two other global agencies – BBDO and Grey Worldwide.

Underlying the review is thought to be a disintegrating relationship between D’Arcy and Mars’ European managers. Although the agency’s work for Uncle Ben’s in the US has been well-received, it is a different story across the Atlantic. “In Europe the relationship between D’Arcy and Mars is much more frayed,” explained the insider. “It’s not so much that Mars doesn’t like the ads as the time it takes to get them. As a result, the relationship has become very fragile.”

News source: CampaignLive (UK)