NEW YORK WPP Group's MindShare won Unilever's $1.25 billion European media account, besting Interpublic Group incumbent Initiative Media and Aegis Group's Carat in the final round of a review, Unilever confirmed today.
Initiative had held the Unilever business in every market across Europe, with the exceptions of Italy and Germany, where MindShare held the account.
"Initiative has enjoyed a close and unique relationship with Unilever for many years in this region," said Philippe Bernard, president of Initiative's European operations. "We have a successful track record and have systematically obtained and delivered the best conditions for our client. The decision is obviously difficult for us, rationally and emotionally."
Initiative handled approximately $650 million of the billings contested in the review, but continues to handle the client's media duties in several key markets, an agency representative said.
Ten of Initiative's 31 agencies in Europe will be affected by the consolidation and the impact will vary by market; Germany, Italy, Greece, as well as Central and Eastern European markets are unaffected by the review, the company said.
The decision deals another blow to IPG's media operations. Initiative loses its Unilever assignment in Europe just three weeks after IPG sibling Universal McCann lost a portion of Nestle's $1.5 billion global media account, which was consolidated with WPP's GroupM and Publicis Groupe's ZenithOptimedia following a review. Universal McCann had handled more than $400 million in Nestle business in the U.S. and Latin America [Adweek Online, Oct. 15].