The RFP documents were made available mid-February, separating Unilever’s estimated US$4.65 billion media business into two assignments: strategy and buying. The pitch is being led by Luis Di Como, senior vice president of global media at Unilever.
Sources say that dividing the business in this way paves the way clear for other agencies to pitch for the strategy, including the likes of BBH and Naked. The strategy assignment is being overseen by US-based MediaLink chairman and CEO Michael Kassan, who is the former president and CEO of IPG’s Initiative Media.
The buying assignment is being handled by management consultancy Accenture, and is understood to be primarily based on price.
Proposal evaluations are to take place throughout April, with a view to conducting the second stage of the pitch process in May. Agencies are expected to be named in September, for a January 2013 start.
The global review includes the services for its four core categories – foods, refreshment, home care and personal care – around much of the world, including the UK, North America, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, India and China. It follows the fmcg giant’s announcement that it aims to double the size of its business by 2020, while reducing its environmental impact.
WPP’s Mindshare handles Unilever’s estimated $1.1 billion business in Western Europe, its $800 million business in North America, and much of Asia Pacific. China, valued at $450 million, and Eastern Europe are both handled by Omnicom Media Group’s PHD.
Unilever said the exercise is in line with company policy to review media agency arrangements periodically.
Unilever’s international portfolio of brands includes Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Dove, Vaseline, Persil, Cif, Marmite and Pot Noodle. The group is one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods with operations in more than 100 countries and sales in more than 180. According to company statistics, consumers buy 170 billion Unilever packs around the world every year, and its products are used over two billion times a day.