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)