Big G Thinks Global, Acts Local

DDB’s status as a U.S.-only agency for General Mills doomed it as the client looks to consolidate its brands and advertising globally.

The agency’s Omnicom partner OMD Media also lost out in the Minneapolis company’s $450 million broadcast buying review, which on Friday was won by OMD’s fellow incumbent Zenith Media in New York.

The creative consolidation ends DDB’s 39-year relationship with General Mills. The Chicago shop had about $120 million of the company’s domestic business, with venerable brands including Wheaties and Betty Crocker.

Roster shops Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis and Saatchi & Saatchi in New York were bene factors. Campbell Mithun picked up Betty Crocker brands including Hamburger Helper, cereals including Golden Grahams and Harmony, and cereal bars. General Mills also moved Honey Nut Chex, previously at Saatchi, to Campbell Mithun, which now has all Chex brands. Saatchi was assigned Wheat ies and Yoplait yo gurts. CMR numbers for 2000 indicate Campbell Mithun picked up about $80 million of DDB’s business.

Campbell Mithun uses fellow Interpublic Group of Cos. agency McCann-Erickson for overseas work.

Campbell Mithun’s Cash Plus media operation retains syndicated broadcast buying, and the agency’s media unit handles print for General Mills. For the broadcast buying business, Zenith also bested Initiative Media in Los Angeles and Universal McCann in New York.

While several sources said DDB’s relationship with the client had been eroding, the official line from the client and agency was that General Mills wanted to stick with its global partners.

Alan Pilkington, DDB’s chairman and president of North America and Latin America, said the company’s decision to drop the agency from its roster jibes with what he has been told about General Mills’ initiatives to take on a more global marketing approach.

“They are looking into the future from a global perspective,” he said.

“This allows us to leverage our resources globally and readily access those resources,” said a company rep.

About 50 DDB employees worked on General Mills, but no layoffs are planned, Pilkington said. Many positions are open due to the recent Dell Computer win, and so some staffers may shift accounts.