NEW YORK–Backer Spielvogel Bates here may be about to cry “Uncle” with one division of its secretive client, Mars Inc." data-categories = "" data-popup = "" data-ads = "Yes" data-company = "[]" >

Uncle Ben to cook with one agency? By Michael McCarth

NEW YORK–Backer Spielvogel Bates here may be about to cry “Uncle” with one division of its secretive client, Mars Inc.

Sources said last week that Mars is considering a global consolidation of its Uncle Ben’s business at a single agency. A strategy session several weeks ago discussed the strategic future of the Uncle Ben’s brand, which is currently handled by BSB in the U.S. and Australia and by D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in Europe.
As a result, the $18-20-million U.S. portion of the business could be on the move. The Houston-based Uncle Ben’s operates as a separate subsidiary of Mars and markets a variety of dried rice brands under the Uncle Ben’s brand name.
While the agencies interested in the U.S. account are still unclear sources speculated that DMB&B and Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising/N.Y., which is connected to BSB through fellow parent, Saatchi & Saatchi PLC, could be pitching the business. Another agency in the Mars stable, Grey Advertising/N.Y., handles Minute Rice in the U.S., so it would be conflicted out of any pitch.
DMB&B could be a strong contender to win the consolidated account worldwide. The agency won the Whiskas cat food account from BSB several months ago and reportedly has a good relationship with the client.
In the U.S., DMB&B and BSB act as Mars’ two main agencies. Through its New York and St. Lotus offices, DMB&B handles some of the food giant’s biggest brands such as Milky Way, Skittles, Starburst and Twix. BSB also controls a large chunk of the Mars business, with brands such as M&M’s, Snickers and 3 Musketeers.
The client’s ad budget makes it one of the largest spenders in its category. During 1991, Uncle Ben’s spent about $18 million on measured media and another $8.3 million in the first half of 1992, according to LNA/Arbitron.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)