Unilever Reviewing All of Its Digital Agencies

By Patrick Coffee 

Unilever_html_m59a35fbeIn what can only be the most amazing coincidence in recent history, massive multinational consumer goods corporation Unilever followed its CMO’s “Advertising is chaos” Wall Street Journal blog post with the announcement that it will conduct an exhaustive global agency review.

Today “industry executives” told AdAge that they’re reviewing everything (creative, PR, social, data, etc.), and the review appears to be open to pretty much everyone–incumbent and non-incumbent alike.

While no one at Unilever offered official comments to AdAge, the word driving this move is a bad one: savings.

You may recall that the consumer goods giant announced plans to cut the number of products it sells (by 30 percent), the number of people it employs (by 2000 or more, heavy on the marketing side) and the fees it pays its many agencies (no numbers available there). In a strikingly well-planned strategic move, Unilever announced these “changes” right before Christmas last year, turning both Ben and Jerry’s smiles into frowns.

A quick refresher regarding (potentially) affected agencies: Ogilvy, Arnold, Razorfish, R\GA, Huge, TAXI Europe, Lowe…and the list goes on.

But what effect will such moves have on the industry’s “ability to continue to attract and ‘unlock’ creative talent?” CMO Keith Weed has lots of opinions but no comments…for now.