5 Shops in Unilever’s $300 Mil. Bestfoods Contest

NEW YORK—Following its acquisition of Bestfoods, Unilever is reassessing agency creative assignments on those brands, with an eye toward naming one agency to handle dressings globally and another to work on sauces worldwide, sources said. Some shops are only pursuing one category, since they already handle rival brands in the other. J. Walter Thompson will not make a play for the dressings business, since it works on Kraft’s Miracle Whip, said sources. BBDO, which handles Campbell’s soups, won’t pitch sauces. Besides BBDO and JWT, three other global networks are participating: DDB, Lowe Lintas & Partners and Ogilvy & Mather. Total global billings are estimated at $300 million, with about $80-100 million in dressings and the balance in sauces, sources said. The process is being driven by Unilever executives in London.

HMS Partners to Acquire Fahlgren

CHICAGO—HMS Partners and Fahlgren have signed a letter of intent to merge, agency executives said. If completed, the deal between the Columbus, Ohio, shops will fold Fahlgren into HMS’s advertising arm, HMS/Hallmark. Together, the agencies claim billings of $350 million and revenue of $40 million.

McCann to Reposition Seattle Office

LOS ANGELES—The Seattle office of McCann-Erickson has set in motion a major repositioning highlighted by a name change to Star Machinery Co. Sources said beginning March 1, the agency will change its identity and focus more keenly on branding efforts for small and midsize clients. Plans call for the revamped Seattle operation to continue buying media through McCann’s media network, Universal McCann. The new direction will not be accompanied by a change in top management or a reduction in the 90-person work force, sources said.

Ogilvy Lands Symantec’s $30-40 Mil. Consumer Biz

LOS ANGELES—Ogilvy & Mather in Los Angeles beat out several Northern California shops for the creative portion of Symantec’s consumer account, estimated to be worth$30-40 million. Contenders included FCB, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Young & Rubicam, all in San Francisco. A number of agencies previously handled consumer advertising for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company.

Account Activity

Sun Microsystems this week launches its first work from Tonic 360 @ JWT in San Francisco and J. Walter Thompson in New York. The $20 million campaign introduces the tagline “Take it to the nth.” The effort uses the symbol (n), as in “the nth degree.” Print work breaks in national newspapers and magazines. … Kraft Foods has shifted agency responsibilities on several brands. A-1 Steak Sauce, worth about $10 million, has shifted to FCB in Chicago from the agency’s New York office. Cream of Wheat, worth about $5 million, was moved from FCB in New York to Ogilvy & Mather in New York, a Kraft representative said. Grey Poupon was moved to J. Walter Thompson in Chicago from FCB. The moves are part of a realignment of Kraft’s “sandwich enhancer division” after the acquisition by parent Philip Morris of Nabisco in December.