NEW YORK Unilever today confirmed that it has awarded its global creative duties on its Magnum ice cream brand to Lowe after a review in which DDB and McCann Erickson were the other finalists.
McCann was the incumbent on the business. Adweek.com first reported the move on Jan. 11.
At the same time, Unilever has gone further to reassign the rest of its ice cream brands -- now divided among three core shops -- with Lowe and DDB becoming the company's sole ice cream agencies globally. As a result, current Unilever roster shops McCann, Campbell Mithun and Nitro will be stripped of their ice cream business, said sources.
Going forward, Interpublic Group's Lowe will handle creative duties on "impulse" brands that consumers buy from street vendors or delicatessens, including Magnum, Cornetto and Solero, and Omnicom Group's DDB will handle "take-home" brands that are sold in supermarkets and generally eaten at home, such as Breyers, Wall's and Carte D'Or.
Total revenue on all of Unilever's ice cream business globally is estimated at $20-30 million. Unilever declined to discuss revenue or media spending behind the brands. The percentage split between Lowe and DDB could not immediately be ascertained.
As for why Unilever reassigned brands besides Magnum, which was the focus of the pitch, a company representative said that contenders presented ideas that could be applied across the category.
In a statement, Peter Ter-Kulve, Unilever's svp, ice cream, said, "DDB and Lowe delivered truly inspired responses to our brief and I am excited about the prospect of working with them going forward."
Lowe's office in Madrid, Spain, known as Lola, will lead efforts on the shop's business, though other offices, such as those in the U.K., Brazil and China, will contribute on global strategy and creative for local brands, said worldwide CEO Stephen Gatfield. "This is a very big category and a very big business win," Gatfield added.
DDB will handle its business out of the U.S., possibly at multiple offices. Worldwide CEO Chuck Brymer could not immediately be reached for comment, but in an internal e-mail to DDB's pitch team, he wrote that Unilever "loved our thinking, ideas and overall passion for the business. Everyone should take great pride in this."
The handoffs from incumbents losing ice cream business, including McCann, which served the brands from London and Rome, will be completed within 90 days. In an e-mail to McCann staffers, Brett Gosper, president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, wrote: "This is devastating news after all the hard work and effort from both the pitch team in the U.K. and the Italian team, who continued to run a very complicated business through this uncertain period."
Ter-Kulve added that "this choice was far from easy to make and I'd like to thank McCann for their hard work on the ice cream portfolio and the Magnum brand in particular."
McCann continues to work on other Unilever brands, including Bertoli.