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Yogurt Maker Moves Media to MPG

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NEW YORK Yogurt maker Groupe Danone has awarded its U.S. media planning and buying account to Havas-owned MPG after a review, the client has confirmed.

MPG and incumbent MediaCom, a unit of WPP's GroupM, were the final contenders. Both pitched from their offices here.

The assignment is worth more than $75 million, as the client prepares to increase its domestic media presence.

Participants in earlier rounds included Omnicom's PHD and Aegis Group's Carat. All four pitched the business out of their offices in New York.

The pitch was the latest step in a country-by-country media appraisal the company started last year. The U.S. review began in the spring [Adweek Online, May 19].

The Paris-based client spent $75 million in measured media in 2005 and $45 million in the first half of this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Andreas Ostermayr, svp, marketing of Danone's domestic operation The Dannon Co., said U.S. spending would increase substantially in 2007 versus the current year, but declined to provide specifics.

"We are impressed with MPG's strategic counsel, depth of market knowledge and well-established, integrated management of the U.S. and Canadian markets," Ostermayr said. Danone's sourcing and supplier development team and Ostermayr's marketing team led the agency review.

"As the leading global brand of fresh dairy products by a margin of four to one, Danone is a hallmark brand," said Steve Lanzano, evp, general manager, MPG North America. "We share Danone's vision for its continued development in the food and wellness sectors," While branded Dannon in the U.S., elsewhere around the world it is known as Danone.

MPG has enjoyed recent success in Danone reviews in other territories. The agency last month won the Mexican media business, where spending is expected to surpass $50 million in 2007.

MPG has also in recent months successfully defended Danone's $95 million media business in Spain and the client's $15 million assignment in Portugal.

In its biggest Danone win by far, MPG added the client's $280 million account in France last December.