Mindshare Keeps Unilever in U.S., Western Europe

Unilever has elected to keep its U.S. media planning and buying assignment at WPP Group’s Mindshare, according to sources.

The shop also retained Western Europe and picked up Canada. The decision came after a review that begin six months ago.

Other contenders in the U.S. review included Omnicom’s PHD and Interpublic’s Initiative.

The client spent $640 million in the U.S. on ads in 2008 and $674 million from January through November of last year, according to Nielsen.

The North American review is part of a broader process that the client launched last year to evaluate its media agency relationships across numerous markets around the world.

A separate review for Greater China, including China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, concluded last month. In that contest, the client awarded the assignment to Omnicom’s PHD. Spending in those three markets is estimated at $450 million. The Greater China incumbents were Mindshare and Initiative, per the client.

Sources said Mindshare handled approximately 80 percent of the client’s media business leading into the review cycle.

In addition to the U.S., Mindshare holds the business in the U.K. (where Unilever spends about $240 million annually on ads) and most other European countries (pan-European spending tops $1 billion).

On a global basis, Unilever spends more than $7 billion a year on advertising and promotions. Worldwide media spending is believed to exceed $2 billion.

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