MindShare’s Unilever Win Leads Media-Review Pack

From beginning to end, Unilever’s consolidated $700 million media review, won by MindShare last week, exemplified the remarkable changes in the media industry in the past year.

Not counting the packaged-goods giant’s business, upwards of $5 billion in media billings were put in play in the U.S. since the Unilever review began in late 1999, and the media-agency concept became a staple of North American advertising. Also, seller-side consolidation disappointed none of its advocates, adding more impetus to the changes.

Unilever’s example encouraged other giant advertisers to launch consolidated reviews, sources said, including the ongoing ones for Pfizer’s $700 million account and for Kraft’s $700 million business—which both include New York-based MindShare.

During Unilever’s 13-month search, one of the most-watched developments was the integration of WPP’s J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather media operations into MindShare USA under chairman and CEO Irwin Gotlieb. The client held up the review mid-year in part to give MindShare time to get running.

Brad Simmons, client vp, U.S. me-dia said the process, which included other incumbents Initiative Media in Los Angeles and OMD Media (which bowed out of the review two months ago), was conducted based on three areas: “Communication Channel Planning, strategic media planning and media buying. … Our team felt MindShare had the strongest strategic re-sources in terms of identifying consumer insights and taking those into marketing applications.”

“If I was in [Uni-lever’s] shoes, I’d ask myself what’s more im-portant, to keep planning intact or buying?” said Initiative chairman and CEO Lou Schultz. “The Unilever brand people felt more of a comfort zone staying with their core planning group.”

Before the consolidation, MindShare planned about two-thirds of the company’s personal-care and home-products business, said Simmons, and about half of the food products’ media planning. NEIL BECKERMAN